Barents Observer: Legal experts point at innocence of historian Dmitriev
The Dmitriev Affair (English translation of news stories): Dmitriev transferred to Moscow for psychiatric assessment
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Russia turns to punitive psychiatry as trial collapses
7x7: Dmitriev to be released (December 27, the day before the transfer)
Psychiatric hospitals have for generations served as covert prisons for Moscow’s political undesirables — a diagnosis of mental illness discredits the dissident’s work, and gives the state a way to lock up opponents while appearing to care for them.
For decades, historian Yuri Dmitriev had found and unearthed hidden mass graves of Joseph Stalin’s real or imagined opponents. In December 2016, he was arrested and charged with child pornography. Independent witnesses testified that the photos submitted as evidence were not pornographic in nature. On December 27, the court agreed to release Dmitriev from pretrial detention in late January.
But on Thursday, December 28, Dmitriev was transferred under armed guard from his native Karelia to Serbsky Institute in Moscow, 600 miles away, for a second psychiatric evaluation. Serbsky has a documented history as the site of false diagnoses and torture throughout decades of changing Soviet regimes.
This raises the possibility that Dmitriev will be deemed mentally ill and a threat to others, and locked up in a psychiatric hospital for life — a fate common to dissidents since the 1960’s. Separately, he could still be found guilty if prosecutors find a way to move the case forward.
Novaya Gazeta reports that Dmitriev’s attorney claims his client’s swift transfer — a day after the court decided to release him — had been arranged ahead of time as a fallback to keep Dmitriev locked up.
President, Bukovsky Center