STUMP » Articles » Vindication: Yuri Dmitriev Acquitted » 7 April 2018, 08:33

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Vindication: Yuri Dmitriev Acquitted  


7 April 2018, 08:33

From the New York Times: Russian Historian Who Exposed Soviet Crimes Is Cleared in Pornography Case

A Russian historian of the Soviet forced labor camps known as the Gulag, whose work ran counter to official contemporary narratives that play down the crimes of the Stalin era, was acquitted on Thursday of child pornography charges, which human rights groups said had been trumped up for political reasons.

The historian, Yuri A. Dmitriev, gained renown in 1997 for discovering the remains of more than 9,000 victims of Stalinist purges buried in communal pits in Sandarmokh, a forest in northwestern Russia.

Mr. Dmitriev has devoted the past 30 years to searching for such mass graves together with colleagues from Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most respected human rights organizations. Mr. Dmitriev serves as the regional director of Memorial in Karelia, a region in northwestern Russia bordering Finland.

You can go to the NYT piece to read about the trumped up charges, but here are some more stories on the matter:

A few additional resources:

Facebook group: Free Yuri Dmitriev

The Dmitriev Affair – a website documenting Dmitriev’s case and his work


I have written about Yuri Dmitriev earlier.

To quote myself earlier:

It’s important to know who died, and when, and who sent those people to their deaths.

While people are screeching about being called mean names for their opinions in the U.S., we should remember that some are imprisoned just for wanting to have an accurate record of all those killed by Stalin and later Soviet leaders.

Get some perspective.

And know that the truth is important.


To grab a tweet by baldilocks:

She’s not referring to what I have above, per se, but ultimately it is the same thing.

Refusing to see the truth, hiding the truth — it’s poisonous.

It took me a long time to figure this out — I’m an excellent liar, and there was a point in my life where I used lies to manipulate people (I’ll make it easy: it was when I was in high school). Then as I got older, I switched to lies more for not hurting other people’s feelings. But ultimately, it wasn’t kind to do that.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more how destructive lies can be, even when the original intent was “good” — to save someone’s feelings, to prevent conflict, etc. Thank goodness, I don’t have to come up with my own polished prose to make the case — Jordan Peterson does it for me.

In Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Rule 8 is “Tell the Truth, or at Least Don’t Lie”

Here is a passage from that chapter:

Things falls apart: this is one of the great discoveries of humanity. And we speed the natural deterioration of great things through blindness, inaction and deceit. Without attention, culture degenerates and dies, and evil prevails.

What you see of a lie when you act it out (and most lies are acted out, rather than told) is very little of what it actually is. A lie is connected to everything else. It produces the same effect on the world that a single drop of sewage produces in even the largest crystal magnum of champagne. It is something best considered live and growing.

When the lies get big enough, the whole world spoils. But if you look close enough, the biggest of lies is composed of smaller lies, and those are composed of still smaller lies – and the smallest of lies is where the big lie starts. It is not the mere misstatement of fact. It is instead an act that has the aspect of the most serious conspiracy ever to possess the race of man. Its seeming innocuousness, its trivial meanness, the feeble arrogance that gives rise to it, the apparently trivial circumventing of responsibility that it aims at—these all work effectively to camouflage its true nature, its genuine dangerousness, and its equivalence with the great acts of evil that man perpetrates and often enjoys. Lies corrupt the world. Worse, that is their intent.

First, a little lie; then, several lies to prop it up. After that, distorted thinking to avoid the shame those lies produce, then a few more lies to cover up the consequences of the distorted thinking. Then, most terribly, the transformation of those now necessary lies through practice into automatized, specialized, structural, neurologically instantiated “unconscious” belief and action. Then the sickening of experience itself as action predicated on falsehood fails to produce the results intended. If you don’t believe in brick walls, you will still be injured when you run headlong into one. Then you will curse reality itself for producing the wall.

I recommend reading the book— while Peterson does take a very broad view, looking at the various ideas as how they’ve bubbled up through history, he is really trying to reach the individual. In this case, someone who has built up a life of lies that they feel trapped in.

But in this chapter he does mention the lies used to keep the Soviet system going:

One of the major contributions of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s masterwoork, The Gulag Archipelago, was his analysis of the direct causal relationship between the pathology of the Soviet prison-work-camp dependent state (where millions suffered and died) and the almost universal proclivity of the Soviet citizen to falsify his own day-to-day personal experience, deny his own state-induced suffering, and thereby prop up the dictates of the rational, ideology-possessed communist system. It was this bad faith, this denial, that in Solzhenitsyn’s opinion aided and abbetted that great paranoid mass-murderer, Joseph Stalin, in his crimes. Solzhenitsyn wrote the truth, his truth, hard-learned through his own experiences in the camps, exposing the lies of the Soviet state. No educated person dared defend that ideology again after Solzhenitsyn published The Gulag Archipelago. No one could ever say again, “What Stalin did, that was not true communism.”

Plenty of people have said that post-Solzhenitsyn, of course, but I think I understand what Peterson means. The only way you can make this claim is via deliberate ignorance and/or deliberate lying.

For those who would like to bolster the totalitarian state of today, people like Yuri Dmitriev and works like The Gulag Archipelago are dangerous. The Gulag Archipelago is really, really long, so perhaps people won’t read that. But people don’t need to read to see the collected skulls of those murdered and to see the cemetaries and lists with the names of those murdered by the Stalinist regime.

Let’s throw a party for ole Uncle Joe, eh? Putin and his cronies can’t possibly like somebody like Dmitriev. So they use various little lies, if they can get away with it, to conveniently shove a person like Dmitriev into a jail… and to provide warning to anybody else who wants to unbury the dead for all to see.

This is more than Dmitriev – it’s about remembering Solovki and Sandarmokh, it’s about remembering the millions killed for Stalin, and then the later Soviet regimes… perhaps fewer were killed in later regimes, but the oppression of having to live the lie — and while the Soviet Union itself fell, the totalitarian state — the government of total control of individuals’ lives — keeps trying to come back.

For those who want that totalitarian state, and specifically those who think they will be the ones running it, being able to lie about the past is extremely useful.

Don’t let them get away with it.