"We hope that you will take our alarm"


We publish the text of the petition sent on January, 2020

President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir  Putin

Mr. President,

We would like to express our deepest concern about the criminal case against Yury Dmitriev, the Karelian historian known for his outstanding efforts to preserve the memory of the victims of Stalinist repression. Dmitriev’s case is proceeding at the same time as an attempt to rewrite the history of the memorial burial site Sandarmokh.

Yury Dmitriev is known as the historian who identified several large burial sites from the times of the Stalinist Terror and conducted an enormous amount of research on those who were buried in them. Dmitriev spent years compiling and publishing Books of Remembrance listing the names and biographical details of the victims of political repression.       

Dmitriev located the most infamous of these burial pits, Sandarmokh, in 1997. Due to his efforts, Sandarmokh was designated a memorial site. As attested in historical documentation, over 6,000 people were executed here by members of the NKVD in 1937-1938. It is thanks to Dmitriev that their names and fates have been established.

In 2016, a completely groundless hypothesis began circulating in Karelia, suggesting that the bodies buried in Sandarmokh weren’t victims of the Soviet Terror, but rather Red Army soldiers executed by the Finns. In December of that same year, Yury Dmitriev was arrested and accused of producing child pornography and illegal possession of a firearm. Dmitriev was not the only victim of this accusation: his foster daughter was separated from the family and subjected to extreme stress. In the course of the investigation the prosecution’s evidence was dismissed; Dmitriev was acquitted in April 2018.

However, in June of the same year Dmitriev was arrested again. New, even more severe accusations were added to the previous ones. And new excavations began in Sandarmokh two months after that. Their goal was to locate the remains of Red Army soldiers executed by the Finns. These excavations have continued into 2019. Yury Dmitriev’s case has been going on this entire time. The fact that the court sessions are closed to the public leaves no way for anyone to evaluate whether the process is objective. However, it does seem strange that entirely new accusations suddenly surfaced — after two years of investigations and court proceedings — as soon as the not-guilty verdict was pronounced.

All the available information on the accusation and court case against Dmitriev convinces us that Dmitriev is innocent and that his research is the real reason he’s being prosecuted.

Yury Dmitriev is 64. His health has seriously deteriorated after three years of incarceration. The charges against him carry a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars. This sentence would mean the end not only of his research, but of his life. 

The fate of Yury Dmitriev’s foster daughter is also cause for grave concern. She has had to endure losing her entire family for a second time, as well as public humiliation and accusations against someone she loves. A guilty verdict against Yury Dmitriev could cause irreparable harm that will follow her for the rest of her life.

We hope that you will take our alarm and concern into consideration, and that you will do everything in your power to stop the prosecution of the historian Yury Dmitriev and ensure a just resolution of his case.

Galia Ackerman, writer, historian. France

Svetlana Alexievich, writer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (2015). Belarus

Aglaya Asheshova, Head of the Russian Book Fund, University Library of Languages and Civilizations (BULAC), Paris. France

Petras Austrevicius, public official, politician, member of the European Parliament. Lithuania

Gilles Authier, philologist, head of studies on Caucasian Languages and Literature at the Higher School of Practical Studies (Paris). France

Nicole Bacharan, historian, political scientist. France

Anton Batagov, composer, musician. Russia

Marieluise Beck, politician, Union 90/Greens activist, co-founder of the Center for Liberal Modernism (Zentrum Liberale Moderne). Germany

Bérénice Bejo, actress, winner of the Cesar Award (2012), the Oscar nominee. France

Dietrich Beyrau, historian, Honorary Professor, Institute of History and Regional Studies of Eastern Europe, Tübingen. Germany

Petr Blažek, historian, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The Czech Republic

Reinhard Bütikofer, politician, Union 90/Greens activist, member of the European Parliament. Germany

Štěpán Černoušek, founder of “Gulag.cz” community. The Czech Republic

François Croquette, French Ambassador for Human Rights. France

Yves Cohen, historian, Director of the Center for Historical Studies at the Higher School of Social Sciences (Paris). France

Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit, politician, one of the leaders of the 1968 protests in France, co-chair of the Greens group in the European Parliament. France, Germany

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Union 90/Greens activist, member of the European Parliament. Germany

Boris Czerny, professor at the University of Caen, France

György Dalos, writer, historian, journalist, translator. Hungary; Germany

Luboš Dobrovský, the first Czechoslovak civilian Minister of Defense after 1989, director of the Office of the Czech President Václav Havel, the Czech Republic ex-Ambassador to Russia. The Czech Republic

Michel Eltchaninoff, philosopher, chief editor of “Philosophie magazine”. France

Very Rev. Dr. John H. Erickson, Professor Emeritus and ex-dean of the Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. USA

Philippe Frison, translator. France

Ralf Fücks, politician, activist of the Green Party in Germany since 1982, ex-mayor of Bremen. Germany

Caroline von Gall, professor, Institute of East European Law and Comparative Law, University of Cologne. Germany

Tomáš Glanc, philologist, professor of Slavic studies, University of Zurich. The Czech Republic / Switzerland

Raphaël Glucksmann, writer, journalist, documentary filmmaker. Member of the European Parliament. France

Rainer Goldt, professor, Institute of Slavic Studies, University of Mainz. Germany

Romain Goupil, actor, film director, scriptwriter. France

Michel Hazanavicius, film director, winner of the Oscar Award (2012), actor, script writer. France

Heiko Haumann, Professor Emeritus of East European and New History of the University of Basel, Switzerland

Heidi Hautala, politician, member of the European Parliament (2009-2011), Minister for Development Cooperation (2011-2013). Finland

Agnieszka Holland, film director, actress. Poland

Anne Le Huérou, social scientist, specialist in Russian studies, Associate Professor,  Paris Nanterre University. France

Rasa Juknevičienė, politician, Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania since 1996; Minister of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania, member of the European Parliament. Lithuania

Anna Kaminsky, historian, director of the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship. Germany

Andreas Kappeler, Professor Emeritus, University of Vienna. Austria

Lucie Kempf, political scientist, specialist in Russian studies, researcher and lecturer at Nancy University. France

Nikolay Khalezin, film director, playwright, director of  the Belarus Free Theater. Belarus

Tomasz Kizny, photographer, journalist, researcher. Poland

Freya Klier, writer, documentary filmmaker. Germany

Petr Kolář, diplomat, ex-advisor to President Václav Havel аnd the Czech Republic Ambassador to Russia. The Czech Republic

Gerd Koenen, historian, writer, researcher of history of communism. Germany

Natalia Koliada, art-director of  the Belarus Free Theater. Belarus

Maja Komorowska, actress. Poland

Bernard Kouchner, physician, diplomat, French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (2007-2010), co-founder of “Médecins Sans Frontières”. France

Andrius Kubilius, politician, public official, Lithuanian Prime Minister (1999-2000; 2008-2012), Chairman of the Union of the Fatherland Party, member of the European Parliament. Lithuania

Bruno Laplane, judge, President of the Senior Court of Dijon. France

Magdalena Lazarkiewicz, film director. Poland

Bernard-Henri Lévy, philosopher, writer, playwright, film director. France

Jonathan Littell, writer, winner of the Prix Goncourt (2006). USA, France

Pavel Litvinov, physicist, social activist, participant of human rights movement in the USSR, political emigrant. USA 

Otto Luchterhandt, professor, Doctor of Law, University of Hamburg. Germany

Jan Machonin, philologist. The Czech Republic

Alena Machoninová, philologist. The Czech Republic

Martin Malek, political scientist, Vienna. Austria

Aušra Maldeikienė, public official, politician, economist, lecturer, writer, member of the European Parliament. Lithuania

André Markowicz, translator. France

Rachel Mazuy, historian, researcher of the Institute for the History of Present Time, CNRS, France

Liudas Mazylis, politician, member of the European Parliament. Lithuania

Pascale Melani, professor at the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne. France

Aude Merlin, political scientist, specialist in Russian studies, professor, Free University, Brussels. Belgium

Adam Michnik, social activist, journalist, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza. Poland

Herta Müller, writer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (2009). Germany

Norman M. Naimark, historian, researcher of modern Eastern European history and genocide studies, professor at Stanford University. USA

Maria Nooke, social scientist, Director of the Berlin Wall Fund (2009-2017), State Commissioner for the consideration of the consequences of the communist dictatorship (since 2017). Germany

Daniel Olbrychski, actor, writer. Poland

Bernard Outtier, Honorary Director of Research of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). France

Josef Pazderka, journalist, editor in chief of "Aktualne.cz". The Czech Republic

Michel Parfenov, writer, translator, editor. France

Thomas Piketty, economist, professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences and the  Paris School of Economics. France

Petr Pithart, politician, ex-Prime Minister and Chairman of the Czech Senate, dissident, signatory to Charter 77. The Czech Republic

Petr Placák, writer, historian. The Czech Republic

Gerd Poppe, Federal Government ex-Commissioner for Human Rights Policy. Germany

Martin Putna, philologist, professor of the Charles University in Prague, ex-director of the Václav Havel Library. The Czech Republic

Marina Razbezhkina, film director, producer, member of the European Film Academy. Russia

Marie Pierre Rey, historian, Specialist in Russian and Soviet History, University of Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris). France

Stefan Rohdewald, professor, Institute of History, Justus Liebig University Giessen. Germany

Anna Šabatová, politician, ex-spokesperson of Charter 77. The Czech Republic

Martin Sabrow, historian, political scientist, Director of the Center for Contemporary History Potsdam, Germany

Isabel Santos, politician, member of the European Parliament. Portugal

Dominique Simonnet, writer, journalist. France

Susanne Schattenberg, professor, Director Professor for Contemporary East European History and Culture at the University of Bremen. Germany

Karl Schlögel, historian, specialist in the history and culture of Eastern and Central Europe. Germany 

Susanne Scholl, writer, journalist, specialist in Russian studies. Austria

Silvia Serrano, political scientist, specialist in Russian studies, professor at Sorbonne University, Paris. France

Anna Shor-Chudnovskaya, social scientist, Sigmund Freud University Vienna. Austria

Jiřina Šiklová, social scientist, member of the underground section of Charter 77. The Czech Republic

Karel Schwarzenberg, Member of the Czech Parliament, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic

Nicolas Tenzer, political scientist, writer, founder and president of the Center for the Study of Political Activities (CERAP). France

Laure Thibonnier, researcher and lecturer in the Slavic and German Studies Section at the Institute of Languages and Cultures of Europe, America, Asia and Australia (Section d'études slaves et germaniques, UFR de Langues Etrangères ILCEA 4), Grenoble. France

Nikoloz Tokhwadze. Germany

Olga Tokarczuk, writer,  winner of the Booker International Prize (2018) and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2018). Poland

Jáchym Topol, writer, programme director of the Václav Havel Library in Prague. The Czech Republic

Stefan Troebst, historian, Professor of East European Cultural History, Leipzig University. Germany

Petr Uhl, journalist, member (1989) of the Prague organization of the Soviet Memorial. The Czech Republic

Cécile Vaissié, Professor at the University of Rennes (France), historian, political scientist, specialist in Russian studies, author of the book “For your and our freedom! The dissident movement in Russia”. France

Dominique Vidal, journalist, historian. France

Nicolas Werth, historian, Senior Research Director of the French National Center for Scientific Research. France

Roger Wiltz, journalist, translator. France

Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajda, actress, film director. Poland

Mohammed Zaher, teaching officer. France

Krzysztof Zanussi, film director, screenwriter, producer. Poland

François Zimeray, politician, attorney, human rights defender, French ex-Ambassador for Human Rights (2008). France

Anna Zonová, writer. The Czech Republic