Memory Still Under Investigation
Date: 21 October 2011
Submitted by Inna Kremen
On October 17, 2011, a first-instance court in Arkhangelsk held closed hearings on the criminal case against Prof. Mikhail Suprun and Colonel Alexander Dudarev. The case is lasting since September 2009, and “interested persons” sometimes seem to be not able to realize and to resolve it.
Let us remind that Mikhail Suprun, Professor, Head of National History Department of the Pomorsky State University (Arkhangelsk), attracted attention of security services in 2009 when he took part in a joint Russian-German research project “Russian Ethnical Germans Repressed in 1940s”. Within the project, he prepared so-called “Memory Books” on ethnical Germans repressed and sent to exile to the Arkhangelsk Oblast. Investigators consider the data entered in these books as “personal and family secret” of citizens, therefore not subject for disclosure. The second defendant in the case is Alexander Dudarev, who was then information center head in the Arkhangelsk department for internal affairs and assisted Prof. Suprun in data access.
The case materials mention about 5,000 people whose personal and family secret had allegedly been abused, but only 15 people were presented in the court as wronged persons.
The 14-volume case aroused plenty of applications and protests from mass media and well-known public activists; however, the investigation continued.
We had announced the previous hearings that took place on September 22, 2011.
Ivan Pavlov, JD, PhD, IIFD Board Chair and Mikhail Suprun’s legal attorney, stated that the essence of the accusation was not clear to him since one could hardly understand what reasons had there been to define any specific information as personal or family secret. During eight hours of court hearings, neither wronged persons nor representatives of the prosecution could not give the defense a clear explanation.
Moreover, not all wronged persons that spoke in court wished to bring Mikhail Suprun to criminal responsibility. In Pavlov’s opinion, the security bodies really seek not for defense of the wronged persons’ interests, but for a formal basis to close access to their archives for the majority of historians and other researchers.
“At present”, Pavlov said, “even a guilty verdict will be sort of positive result since the case will then get still wider public response, and will be reviewed at the federal level – by the Constitutional Court”.
Maybe the next hearings scheduled for October 24-26, 2011, will allow to make final conclusions.
More detailed information on the case (in Russian) is available in the IIFD’s Register of Court Practice.