The Petrozavodsk City Court sentenced the head of the Karelian branch of Memorial (the organization is recognized in Russia as a foreign agent) Yuri Dmitriev to 15 years in prison for lecherous acts, making pornography and possession of weapons. For a human rights activist, this is already the third sentence, the first was almost acquittal (he was sentenced only for possession of weapons for 2.5 years of restriction of freedom), and the second brought him 13 years of imprisonment in a strict regime colony. Political analyst Alexei Makarkin commented on the court’s decision.
– Hardly anyone expected something else. Of course, Dmitriev’s lawyers and support team continued to fight, but after the second verdict, it became clear that the new court decision would either keep his position unchanged or worsen even further. The last thing happened.
– Why did this happen? Indeed, according to the first sentence of 2018, Dmitriev was found not guilty of making pornography. And then two sentences, one harder than the other …
– Something like the evolution that took place in the USSR happened. At first, dissidents were seen as troublemakers who nevertheless could not undermine the foundations of the state. They were seen as relics of the past with which to work. But then the dissidents began to be perceived as enemies of the Soviet regime. It was believed that everything had already been explained to them, and those who did not understand, deliberately harm, they should be imprisoned.
I think that something similar happened with us. People who are engaged in humanitarian work have come to be accused of working for the West. The point is not only Dmitriev. There appeared “natural persons – foreign agents” and so on. As in the days of the Soviet Union, this is taking place against the backdrop of the development of the Cold War. We are already putting forward ultimatums to the West. In these conditions, the consolidation of society is needed.
The second point is that the Russian government traditionally proceeds from the fact that we have a “normative history”. In different eras, something of their own was invested in this, but there was always a certainty that Russians should perceive their history from the point of view of patriotism. We must educate citizens who are ready to defend their country at any time. But now this confidence has diminished. The understanding of Russia’s place in the world is changing, and so on.
At the same time, there is the experience of Ukraine. It is believed that nationalists, grant eaters, oligarchs and a corrupt bureaucracy are in power there, who do not want to be friends with Russia, and there are ordinary people who honor the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, want to integrate with Russia, and so on. And suddenly it turns out that a lot has changed in 30 years. It turns out that many Ukrainians do not like the renaming of the avenue in honor of Bandera in Kiev, but no one comes out to protest. In Belarus, too, something similar is happening. A partisan region, a pro-Soviet republic, and so on. But for some reason people raised white-red-white flags …
If you look at the Russian polls, then all this is less noticeable here, but it is also happening. Young people, including people under 40, find themselves farther and farther from the Soviet past. For them, the same Ukraine is a different state, and they do not understand why the events there must be closely monitored.
But we have programs of patriotic education. Why are they performing poorly? The authorities conclude that they are hindered by some external factor. Among them there are historians who advance alien assessments of the past. The country’s leadership is worried that in this way it is possible to completely lose young people.
– In your opinion, there are no real grounds under the verdict?
– I have not seen the materials of the case, so I trust human rights defenders who have been dealing with this issue for a long time. They are sure that there were no grounds for criminal prosecution. In addition, when different problems simultaneously arise for different people and institutions that are engaged in work, for example, on the topic of repression, this becomes a kind of signal that forces political scientists to study their relationship. Usually, in such cases, the courts quickly figure out who is to blame and what to do, but this required several processes. And the fact that at a certain stage there was a tightening, makes you doubt the fairness of the decision.
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