Kremlin, Moscow. Picture: 123RF / ZEFFSS
Kremlin, Moscow. Picture: 123RF / ZEFFSS

St Petersburg/Moscow — A Russian court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Yuri Dmitriev, a historian who exposed Stalin-era crimes, ordering him to be kept in jail to serve the rest of a 13-year sentence that his supporters say is based on fabricated charges.

Dmitriev, 65, was found guilty in July of abusing his adopted daughter sexually, a charge he denied. His lawyer said they will now take their appeal against the sentence to Russia’s Supreme Court.

Dmitriev was due to be freed in November due to time served. But a court in Russia’s northwestern Karelia region abruptly added a decade to his sentence in September 2020 and said he would be held in a high-security penal colony.

His supporters say the case against him is retribution for him helping expose Stalin’s 1937-1938 great terror, in which nearly 700,000 people were executed, according to conservative official estimates. Dmitriev found a mass grave after the Soviet break-up containing thousands of bodies of people held in Stalin’s Gulag network of prison camps.

Memorial, a rights group where Dmitriev works, has said the accusations against him were groundless. Fellow historians, rights activists and leading cultural figures say Dmitriev was framed because his focus on Stalin’s crimes was politically untenable in a modern Russia where the dominant state narrative is of a great nation rising from its knees.

The US embassy decried the long jail term passed in September, describing it as a setback for human rights and historical truth in Russia.

The Kremlin has said it is not involved in his case.


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