Supporters Rally Around Accused Russian Historian Of Stalin's Crimes

Historians in the News
tags: Russia, Stalin, Yury Dmitriyev



Historian Yury Dmitriyev has a morbid talent for finding mass graves moldering beneath the forests of the Russia's northern Karelia region.

"I remember he told me once that when there is a burial site, as the organic material turns to dust, the earth settles around the spot," says Yury Brodsky, a historian who studies the Solovki GULAG labor camp. "And he told me how in the spots where these burials were, although they aren't visible, in the early morning you can notice how the dew there evaporates quickly and how in the depressions you can see what he called 'weeping grass.'"

For half of his life, 61-year-old Dmitriyev has worked to tease out tragic secrets of the Stalinist era in his region. He painstakingly assembled a Book of Remembrance that includes the names of 13,000 Great Terror victims.

But in December, he was arrested in his apartment. He now faces charges of "preparing and circulating child pornography." His trial could begin as early as next month, and, if convicted, he faces between eight and 15 years in prison. He also faces an illegal-weapons charge stemming from a piece of a vintage hunting rifle that investigators found in his flat -- a relic his lawyer says the historian recovered during a research dig.

Dmitriyev denies all the allegations, and colleagues both in Russia and abroad argue that the case has been trumped up to punish him for his past research and to silence him in the future. He has been held in remand prison since his arrest. ...




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