Russia arrests second historian of Stalin’s Terror

Historians in the News
tags: Russia, Stalin, Sergei Koltyrin, Yuri Dmitriev

It is becoming dangerous in Russia to investigate the crimes of Stalinism.  A second Karelian historian, Sergei Koltyrin has been arrested and is facing charges almost identical to those now brought against political prisoner, Yuri Dmitriev.  While the possibility cannot be excluded that there are real grounds for these new charges, the chilling similarities between the two cases are of immense concern.  So too is the timing, with this second arrest coming soon after Koltyrin publicly rejected attempts to rewrite history about the mass graves of victims of the Terror at Sandarmokh in Karelia.

The Investigative Committee report initially stated only that “two men are suspected of depraved actions committed to a minor” (Article 135 § 4 of Russia’s Criminal Code) and that these actions had allegedly been committed in September 2018.  While on their site neither man is named, it is ominous that local media have as yet not identified the second person who, the Investigative Committee now asserts, has admitted to committing the acts. 

The charges against Dmitriev have run up against insurmountable problems because of lack of evidence and the historian’s own denial of all the charges.  Anybody following the cases of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners will be well aware of how many hinged solely on ‘confessions’ obtained while the men were held incommunicado and through torture. 

Koltyrin has been the Director of the Medvezhyegorsk District Museum since 1991.  His museum covers Sandarmokh, the clearing in Karelia where Dmitriev and other members of the Karelia branch of Memorial uncovered the mass graves of victims of the Terror.  Among those buried at Sandarmokh were 1,111 prisoners of the notorious Solovki Labour Camp, including 289 Ukrainian writers, playwrights, scientists and other members of the intelligentsia, killed by quota from 27 October to 4 November 1937.  ...

Read entire article at Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG)

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