Yuri Dmitriev, an amateur but determined historian, discovered graves containing the remains of political prisoners executed by Stalin’s secret police in a forest at Sandarmokh in Karelia, a peninsula in northern Russia. Dmitriev had been seeking proof for years of Stalin’s victims. In an effort to invalidate Dmitrriev’s work, he was arrested and charged with pedophilia – a charge that is often used agains political critics of the State to discredit their work. A court, in December 2018, found Dmitriev not guilty of all charges but the highest court in Karelia voided the acquittal and ordered a retrial. Due to the Covid pandemic Demitriev has been sitting in detention ever since which also exposes him to this virus and risk of infection. CCS has written Presidesnt Putin requesting his intervention, clearance of the charges and release of Drmitriev.
June 12, 2020
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of the Russian Federation
Fax: +7 495 9102134
Dear President Putin:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the arrest of scientist Yuri Alexeyevich Dmitriev – a defendant in a fabricated case of pedophilia and firearms related charges.
Yuri Alexeyevich Dmitriev was initially arrested in December 2016. In 2018, a court in Petrozavodsk cleared him, but then a higher court in Karelia ordered a retrial. He is a local historian and civil rights activist. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, he is sitting in a prison where the virus is already circulating and is further endangered by belonging to an at-risk demographic. It is believed that his arrest is connected with his work uncovering Stalin-era mass graves of execution victims in Karelia.
As scholars, we know that an accurate understanding of the past is needed for thoughtful consideration of what should be done in the future.
We are concerned that our colleague Yuri Alexeyevich Dmitriev may be facing prosecution for simply investigating a particular era in history.
We write to urge you to ensure that he is treated fairly, that he is provided with adequate medical treatment, and regular access to family and independent legal representation. We further urge that whatever legal proceedings are held in his case meets international standards for fair trials. If he was, in fact, engaged in documenting his daughter’s health conditions, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We will be closely following developments in this case.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov,
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW,
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 1 202 298 5700 I Fax: 1 202 298 5735