Yuri Dmitriev is an exceptional scholar of Stalinist repression, and his pioneering methods of locating and identifying the graves of victims have helped him to make a substantial contribution to that important field of historical research. He is a senior member of ‘Memorial’.
Yuri was arrested in December last year, and is on trial in the Republic of Karelia (RF) on serious charges not related to his research. BASEES has no wish to pre-empt legal process, but it notes that Memorial, and international human rights organisations have raised grave concerns about the methods used in the investigation by law enforcement agencies in the Republic of Karelia and the conduct of the trial which is taking place in closed session. Yuri Dmitiriev has been held on remand and denied bail and his legal team have serious questions about the nature of the prosecution’s evidence that have not been answered.
The prosecution of Yuri Dmitriev has come at a time when a media campaign against ‘Memorial’ has been gaining momentum. This campaign has included reports on the Dmitriev case that breach the principle of the presumption of innocence before trial. Colleagues in Russia are convinced that Yuri Dmitriev has been targeted because his research concerns aspects of Soviet history that opponents of academic freedom would prefer to see suppressed.
BASEES prizes the freer atmosphere for research collaboration with colleagues in the Russian Federation that has become possible during the past twenty-five years and, for this reason, have followed developments in the Dmitriev case with concern. BASEES will continue to monitor development and bring them to the attention of the Association’s members.