Russia: Shameful Trial in the “Case of the Historians” continues
The court case resumed on 16 November in Arkhangelsk in the prosecution of the Head of the Faculty of Russian History of the Pomorsky State University, Professor Mikhail Suprun and the Head of the Information Centre of the Arkhangelsk Regional Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA], Alexander Dudarev.
Professor Suprun is accused of “unlawfully gathering personal data about a person constituting their personal, family secrets without their consent” [Article 137 § 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code] and “inciting an official to commit actions clearly beyond the scope of the person’s powers and leading to considerable violation of citizens’ rights and legitimate interests” [Article 286 with application of Article 33 § 4 of the Criminal Code]. The “official” whom Suprun incited to “exceed his powers” was Colonel Dudarev; the latter is only accused under Article 286.
Students were outside the court to show support for Professor Suprun and Alexander Dudarev. Throughout the hearing they stood as “single-person pickets”, taking turns in the biting wind and frost. They carried banners reading: “Maybe there’s been enough repression?”; “Is it really 1937 again?” and “Free History!”
Tatyana Kosinova from the Memorial Research Centre in St Petersburg explains that the court questioned two witnesses, employees of the archives who confirmed that Professor Suprun had worked in the archives, taken copies etc. Lawyer Ivan Pavlov points out that the historian is in no way denying that he did any of this. He believes that the witnesses in fact testified in the defendants’ favour and finds it strange that they were called at all.
“The prosecution did not have and still does not have proof that the information about victims of repression gathered by Mikhail Suprun contained personal and family secrets. They don’t intend to prove it and become immediately deaf to our calls”.
As reported, the charges are the result of Mikhail Suprun’s work on creating a database of Germans deported during the War and in the first post-War years to a special settlement in the Arkhangelsk region – Soviet citizens of German origin and civilians with German citizenship, as well as of German prisoners of war held in Arkhangelsk camps. This study was being carried out within the framework of an agreement concluded in 2007 between the German Red Cros and the Pomorsky University. The main aim of the research is to preserve the memory of the victims of the Second World War and the post-War period.
The investigators claim that the construction by Suprun of a list of five thousand victims of post-War deportations constitutes “the gathering of information about their private life without their consent”. By “an official exceeding his powers” is meant the fact that Colonel Dudarev provided Suprun with access to archival material needed for his research.
The role of the FSB [Federal Security Service] in the case was questioned when the investigation began two years ago. The account given by Dudarev of the plaintiffs’ testimony last week highlights the concern felt as to who is behind the case.
Dudarev said the plaintiffs reminisced about their own experiences and the sufferings of their relatives between the 1940s and 1960s, but when asked precisely what they are accusing the defendants of, they were unable to answer.
New information reported at The picture from there also is by Georgy Titov