A Russian court has increased the sentence of historian Yury Dmitriyev, the local head of human rights group Memorial in the northwestern region of Karelia, to 15 years in prison for allegedly taking pornographic images of his daughter adoption, a charge he strongly denied.
The Petrozavodsk City Court issued the verdict on December 27 after a review of the case against Dmitriyev, who in September 2020 was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Prosecutors had requested an increase in the sentence to 15 years.
Dmitriev’s lawyers said all of his remedies had been exhausted.
The lawsuit comes as the Russian government seeks to shut down the International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Center in Moscow, both of which have long been designated as “foreign agent” NGOs. Their fate could be sealed by the Supreme Court and the highest court in Moscow in the coming weeks.
Dmitriyev is best known for his research on the victims of political repression in Karelia under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. He was instrumental in the investigation and memorialization of the Sandarmokh mass graves, where the bodies of at least 6,000 victims were buried.
As his case goes back and forth between courts, Dmitriyev, who turns 66 next month, has spent almost all of the past five years in pre-trial detention in a prison in Petrozavodsk, the regional capital.