Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev


RUS 003 / 0818 / OBS 109
Continued arbitrary detention


3, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requestsyour urgent intervention in the following situation in Russia.

Description of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detentionand the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev[1],a historian and representative of “Memorial” International Historical, Educational, Human Rights andCharitable Society in the northern republic of Karelia, in Russia.

Vladimir Larionov / Reuters

Accordingto the information received, on August 21, 2018, thePetrozavodsk City Court extended the pre-trial detention of Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev,whose judicial harassment began in December 2016, until October 26, 2018. Onthe following day, Mr. Dmitriyev’s lawyer was informed of the completion of thepreliminary investigation and was given five days, until August 27, 2018, toget familiarised with case materials. The trial hearing is scheduled forSeptember 18, 2018. If found guilty, Mr. Dmitriyev faces from 12 to 20 years ofprison.

Mr.Yuri Dmitriyev has dedicated his life to locating and documenting the remainsof victims of Stalinist repressions. In 1997, Mr. Dmitriev was part of a team that uncovered a mass gravein Sandarmokh (north-west Russia), which attracted significant national andinternational attention, in the form of commemorative actions, but angeredRussian officials intent on marginalizing Soviet-era crimes. Up until the timeof his arrest in 2016, Mr. Dmitriyev had been very active in efforts tomemorialize the victims of Soviet-era human rights repressions and documentedabuses through exhumations and tireless compilation of archives.

Backin 2016, Mr. Dmitriyev was charged with child pornography, for taking nakedpictures of his adoptive daughter between 2008 and 2015 when the girl wasbetween two and nine years old. Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev claimed in court that thepictures were made to monitor her health. He also faced an illegal armspossession charge for keeping an old hunting rifle in his home.

Duringthe trial that started in June 2017 and was closed to the public, an expertevaluation found the incriminated pictures non-pornographic and a psychologicalexamination of the girl established that Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev had caused no harmto his child. The conclusions of the psychiatric examination of Mr. Dmitriyevfound no pedophile inclinations. In April 2018, the PetrozavodskCity Court acquitted Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev on child pornography charges but foundhim guilty on illegal arm possession charges and condemned him to 2,5 months ofrestriction of movement. By the time of the acquittal, he had spent over oneyear in arbitrary detention.

OnJune 14, 2018, Karelia’s High Court overturned the ruling, after theProsecutor’s office reportedly presented a new psychological examination of Mr.Dmitriyev’s adoptive daughter, made after the decision of acquittal. NeitherMr. Yuri Dmitriyev nor his lawyer were notified about the new examination orapprised of the results. The case was simply sent for retrial on the basis of“newly discovered circumstances”.

On June 27, 2018, Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev was arrested by traffic police while hewas travelling out of Petrozavodsk. He was then placed in pre-trial detention.On June 30, 2018, he was charged with “violent acts of a sexual nature inrelation to a person who has not reached the age of fourteen” under paragraph"B" Part 4 of Article 132 of the Criminal Code.

Inmid-July 2018, the historian was transferred to Saint Petersbourg for apsychiatric expertise that was supposed to end on August 8, 2018. While theresults thereof had to be made known to his lawyer on August 22, 2018, noinformation is publicly available so far.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassmentagainst Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev and calls on Russian authorities to immediately andunconditionally release him, as well as drop all charges against him, as theyare only aimed at punishing his legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Pleasewrite to the authorities of Russia asking them to:

i. Immediatelyand unconditionally release Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev, and put an end to all acts ofharassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rightsdefenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

ii. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. YuriDmitriyev and all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

iii. Guaranteein all circumstances the right to a fair trial of Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev and allother human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of theUnited Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN GeneralAssembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Russia.


·Mr.Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 606 3602; + 7495 625 3581

·Mr.Dimitri Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@MedvedevRussia
· Mr. Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RussianFederation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203

·PermanentMission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail:

·Embassyof the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13.
·Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe,France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email:

Please alsowrite to the diplomatic representations of Russia in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, September 3, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting thecode of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of, theEuropean Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by internationalcivil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:


· Teland fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Teland fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] In June 2018, the European Union urged Russia to dropall “dubious” charges against Mr. Yuri Dmitriyev. Earlier, he was recognized apolitical prisoner by the Human Rights Center “Memorial”, which demanded hisimmediate release. For more information see: @font-face { font-family: Arial;}@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math";}@font-face { font-family: "MS Mincho";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }h1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; text-indent: 0cm; page-break-after: avoid; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; font-weight: normal; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 16.95pt; text-indent: -16.95pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoFooter, li.MsoFooter, div.MsoFooter { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.MsoFootnoteReference { vertical-align: super; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }span.Titre1Car { }span.PieddepageCar { }span.En-tteCar { }p.ListParagraph1, li.ListParagraph1, div.ListParagraph1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 36pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }span.NotedebasdepageCar { }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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