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Russian Historian Yuri Dmitriev sentenced to 13 years in revenge for restoring the truth about the Soviet Terror


A court in Russia this week increased the prison sentence of Russian historian Yury Dmitriev to 13 years, just weeks before he was scheduled to be released.

Dmitriev was found guilty in July of spurious charges that PEN America and other critics say was retaliation for his work speaking out against Stalin-era atrocities and for his work with the human rights group Memorial. In a joint statement, PEN America, PEN Belarus, and PEN Ukraine said this prolonged sentence is a direct attack against historical exploration and academic freedom in Russia.

“The persistence with which the Russian government seeks to silence one of the country’s most brilliant academic minds only proves how much it fears the historical truths that could be revealed through Dmitriev’s work,” said PEN America’s Eurasia program director Polina Sadovskaya. “This new sentence of 13 years in prison in the middle of a pandemic for the 64-year-old historian in poor health is effective a death sentence. It is the time for the international community, academia, intellectuals and everyone who cares about historical truths to unite in the call to immediately release Yury Dmitriev”.

The prolonged sentence was handed down behind closed doors; neither Dmitriev nor his attorney was present. According to the Memorial, the court also attempted to reconsider charges that were already dropped in prior proceedings.

Read more about Yuri Dmitriev’s case.