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by Sergei Shestakov

As a head of the research center «Vozvrashchennye Imena» (Returned names) Anatoly Razumov has informed, on July 19, the second volume of Yuri Dmitriev’s book Sandarmokh. Mesto Pamiati(Sandarmokh. A Place of Memory) was presented at the meeting of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council.

The book tells about the victims of the Stalinist «Great Terror», who were secretly murdered and buried in the forest of Sandarmokh in Karelia. It includes a list of the names of the repressed, their reconstructed biographies as well as various essays and articles about the memorial complex and the situation around it during the recent years.

The second volume was prepared jointly by Yuri Dmitriev and those who still support him. It embraces various materials, related to Sandarmokh, from new Books of Rememberance, including the 27 volumes of Ukrainian academic series Reabilitovani istorieju (Rehabilitated by History) and the multi-volumed Belarusian book series Pamiats (Memory), as well as biographical information, provided by the researchers of the history of political repressions and Stalinist terror. A special place in the new volume is given to the narrative about the present situation of the Sandarmokh memorial. Since the arrest of Yuri Dmitriev this site has become the object of constant state ideological manipulations and «resignifyings». 

Yuri Dmitriev is a historian from Petrozavodsk and a head of Karelian branch of the human rights organisation «International Memorial». 

Since the late 1980s, he has been studying the history of Stalinist repressions in Karelia, compiling lists of victims, reconstructing their biographies and searching for pits where the executed were buried. During his expeditions he has found shooting pits in Sandarmokh, Krasny Bor, in Petrozavodsk and in Solovki. Since 2014, he has been an active opponent of Russian actions in Ukraine and has spoken publicly about the return of state violence against critics of the regime.  Since 2016, the historian has been held in pre-trial detention on trumped-up criminal charges. On 29 September 2020, the Supreme Court of Karelia sentenced Yuri Dmitriev to 13 years of maximum security penal colony.