Latvia stands up for historian convicted in Russian court

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia said July 23 it regreted the conviction by a Russian court of a respected historian and human rights activist on dubious charges.

Petrozavodsk City Court sentenced Yury Dmitriyev to 3 years and 6 months in prison after being found guilty of sexual abuse charges.

In a statement the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "Regardless of the sentence being more lenient than the one sought by prosecutors, this ruling cannot be considered fair. It has undermined Yuri Dmitriyev’s reputation and health. Yuri Dmitriyev was arrested on 13 December 2016 on questionable grounds. An anonymous application served as a pretext for initiating the proceedings against him. On 5 April 2018, the Petrozavodsk City Court acquitted him but two months later the Karelia Supreme Court cancelled the sentence and called for a re-examination of the case, while producing new charges."

Yuri Dmitriyev is a historian well-known and respected in Karelia region, and the head of the Karelia branch of Memorial: An International Historical, Educational, Human Rights And Charitable Society. Dmitriyev has devoted 30 years to efforts commemorating the victims of the political repression and persecution of Stalin’s regime including the establishment of memorial sites at Sandarmokh, Krasny Bor and Sekirnaya Gora.

He has attracted widespread support from people who believe the charges were trumped-up to put an end to his human rights activities. Supporters include Nobel-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich, who was part of a public appeal on his behalf made to the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member.

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