Free Yury Dmitriev!


To the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Karelian Republic Anatoly Vladimirovich Nakvas 

On March 23, 2020, Yury Dmitriev, who is being held in a detention facility in Petrozavodsk, was sentenced to remain under arrest for three more months. This means that the peak of the growing coronavirus epidemic will find him in a prison cell. 

Yury Dmitriev is 64 years old. He has spent the last three years of his life behind bars, although no one has ever proven him guilty. Quite the opposite: in April of 2018, the court issued a non-guilty verdict on the main charges against him. But new charges, a new investigation, and a new court case have now been underway for almost two years. Yury Alekseevich’s health has already been severely impacted: he felt ill all of last fall and into the winter, and this February he had a bad cold which has left him very weak. 

On March 24 the World Health Organization published «Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention» which notes, in particular:

Enhanced consideration should be given to resorting to non-custodial measures at all stages of the administration of criminal justice, including at the pre-trial, trial and sentencing as well as post-sentencing stages. Priority should be given to non-custodial measures for alleged offenders and prisoners with low-risk profiles [...] Older people, and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

According to medical professionals, the situation in Russian prisons (characterized by severe overcrowding and the inability to observe sufficient hygienic measures) is such that once the coronavirus penetrates an incarceration facility it can spread like wildfire and infect up to 100% of the prison population. Statistics show that the risk of infection for people over 60 years old is very high, while the consequences of infection can be extreme and even deadly for this demographic.

Yury Dmitriev, who has been unjustly persecuted for his principles and for his efforts to restore historical memory, presents not the slightest risk to society, whereas his health, indeed his life, is at great risk in the current situation. 

We ask that you take the current emergency situation into account and change his custody requirement from pretrial imprisonment to house arrest, effective immediately and remaining in force until his court case is over. 

You can sign the petition here.

On the Yury Dmitriev Affair