March 26, 2021
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of the Russian Federation
Ul. Ilyinka, 23
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 continuing prosecution of scientist Yuri Alexeyevich Dmitriev – a defendant in a case of pedophilia and firearms related charges and to echo the calls by UN human rights experts on February 1st calling for his release. In particular, we are concerned by the recent move, this past month, by the Supreme Court in Karelia in agreement with the Petrozavodsk City Court, ordering him to stop using his own lawyer and engage a state appointed counsel instead – violating his right to select his own counsel.
Yuri Alexeyevich Dmitriev was initially arrested in December 2016, acquitted by a court in Petrozavodsk in 2018, sentenced by a higher court to three and a half years in prison in July 2020, and finally sentenced by the Karelia Supreme Court to 13 years in high-security prison. He is a Karelia regional leader of the human rights NGO Memorial, as well as a local historian studying Stalin-era mass graves of execution victims in Karelia, for which it is believed he is being targeted. As a 64-year-old, Dmitriev is in an at-risk group for catching COVID-19 in a high-risk location: prison.
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 that is inconvenient for the government to acknowledge at the moment for whatever reason.
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 of his own choosing. 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 foster 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
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 1 (202) 298-5700 I Fax: 1 (202) 298-5735