Ukrainians ask for international protection for Russian historian who is persecuted by FSB

Ukrainian government officials, parliamentarians and representatives of non-governmental organizations request for international community to defend the Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev, Head of the Karelia branch of the internationally renowned Memorial Society, who was arrested by FSB on December 13 and faces long-term imprisonment.

As stated in the open letter of Ukrainian authorities and the public to international institutions.

The authors of the statement believe that the prosecution of Dmitriev is a retaliation of Russian authorities for disclosure of the names of perpetrators of repression in the 1930s.

As the statement reported, on December 13 the Federal Security Service of Russia arrested Dmitriev on charges of producing child pornography.

“Such cause for arrest of Dmitriev brings to mind the practice of the KGB, which had a habit of “charging” the dissidents with criminal article. In particular, Viacheslav Chornovil was charged with rape and Zynoviy Antoniuk with “social parasitism” without giving him the chance to find a job. Situation of Dmitriev is a clear indication that modern truly returned to the Stalinist and post-Stalinist repression and terrorization of its own citizens”, - said in a statement.

Shortly before the arrest of Dmitriev, Memorial collected and published on the internet the database of employees of state security agencies of the Soviet Union during the Great Terror. Dmitriev and his colleagues conducted a huge work with establishing names, surnames, ranks, duty area and other information about the employees of Soviet state security in the 1930s. Shortly after the publication, Memorial started receiving threats and unambiguous “recommendations” to end the project.

“We express our support to Yuri Dmitriev and firm conviction that justice sooner or later will prevail and perpetrators of the communist regime will be punished. Situation of Dmitriev is an indication of what will happen to bona fide historians who are researching the history of twentieth century, as well as to all supporters of free thought and speech, where Russia, as successor to the Stalinist Soviet Union, can reach”, - said in a statement.

Authors of the statement emphasize that the figure of Yuri Dmitriev is of particular importance, since he discovered the burial grounds of victims of execution in Sandamokh, where members of the NKVD executed more than a thousand representatives of Ukrainian cultural elite in the 1937. In particular, Mykola Kulish, Les Kurbas, Anton Kryshelnytsky with his two sons, Mykola Zerov, Valerian Polishchuk, Miroslav Irchan, Hryhorii Epik and others. Their burial place was unknown for a long time and only in 1998 Yuri Dmitriev found the mass grave of modern Ukrainian culture.

The appeal to the international community to make a stand in defense of Dmitriev was signed by:

  • director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Volodymyr Viatrovych, Heads of the Committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Hanna Hopko, Viktoria Siumar and Mykola Knyazhytskyy;
  • public figures: Oksana Romaniuk, Executive Director of the Institute of Mass Information, Shamayda Taras, coordinator of the volunteer movement “Prostir Svobody”, Oleg Slabospitsky, coordinator of the Public sector of Euromaidan, Igor Rozkladaiy, chief expert of the “Politics of National Memory” group of intensive care reform package, Marco Suprun, acting Director of the “Protection of patriots” initiative;
  • human rights defenders: Oleksandr Pavlichenko, chairman of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Yevgen Zakharov, executive director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the board of Center for Civil Liberties, Lidiya Topolevska, executive director of the public organization “SIM Legal and Political Research Center”;
  • historians: Andriy Kohut, director of the Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine, Ivan Patryliak, Dean of the Faculty of History of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Zabily Ruslan, director of the National Memorial Museum “Prison on Lontskoho”, Olesya Stasiuk, director of the National Museum “Memorial to Holodomor victims”, Olesya Isayuk, representative of the Centre for Research on the Liberation Movement.

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