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Russian Historian Acquitted Of Child Pornography, Convicted On Weapons Charge

Russian historian Yury Dmitriyev speaks to reporters following the verdict in his child pornography trial.

A Russian historian and human rights activist who helped uncover mass graves of gulag prisoners executed in the 1930s has been acquitted of child-pornography charges.

The ruling on April 5 by the Petrozavodsk City Court in Russia's northwestern region of Karelia vindicates Yury Dmitriyev, a member of the Russian human rights group Memorial.

Dmitriyev's supporters say he was a political prisoner who was harassed by authorities because he exposed a side of history that complicates the Kremlin's glorification of the Soviet past.

Although the court rejected the child pornography charges against Dmitriyev, it convicted him on a charge of illegally possessing a weapon -- parts of a smooth bore rifle.

For that charge, Dmitriyev was sentenced to 2 1/2 years of "freedom limitation" -- a suspended sentence with parole-like restrictions.

Counting time already spent in pre-trial detention since his arrest in December 2016, the court ruled that he still has three months of his parole-like sentence to serve.

Prosecutors charged that Dmitriyev "prepared" and intended to distribute "child pornography" after authorities found 49 naked photographs of his adopted daughter on his computer.

But Dmitriyev testified that the photos were taken because medical workers had asked him to monitor the health and development of the girl, who was malnourished and ailing when Dmitriyev and his wife took her in as a foster child at age 3 with the intention of adopting her.

Dmitriyev heads the Karelia chapter of Memorial. He has worked for decades to expose crimes committed by the Soviet state at gulags in the Karelia region during the rule of dictator Josef Stalin.

Dmitriyev's colleagues say he faced politically motivated, trumped up charges in response to his research -- and in an attempt to silence him.

With reporting by Interfax, Dozhd, Novaya Gazeta, TASS, and The Guardian
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