News Brief

Second Russian Historian Investigating Stalin Crimes Charged With Pedophilia

A historian and museum director who has devoted much of his life to investigating a mass grave of victims of Stalin’s terror in northern Russia has been detained and charged with “indecent acts” with children, according to the Meduza news website and other sources.

Sergey Koltyrin’s arrest in the Karelia region earlier this week is being linked to the case of another historian, Yuri Dmitriev, who uncovered the grave site, and who is facing similar charges, which are widely regarded to have been fabricated in order to discredit him.

Koltyrin’s supporters say he is now experiencing the same kind of pressure, as part of a continuing official effort to prevent historians and activists from revealing the full extent of the crimes and abuses committed by Stalin. The Kremlin prefers to emphasize his role as the leader of Soviet Russia’s World War II victory.

Last year, Dmitriev was ordered to undergo psychiatric testing — an echo of communist-era practices — after charges that he initially faced of creating child pornography (in relation to photos of his daughter) were dropped.

Koltryin runs the Medvezhyegorsk district museum, which oversees the site in Karelia’s Sandarmokh forest where Dmitriev and other Memorial researchers uncovered the remains of thousands of people killed by the Stalin regime in the 1930s.

According to one report quoted by Meduza, the museum director has already confessed to his alleged crime, involving what prosecutors described as the “corruption” of a 13-year-old boy. Another man was reportedly arrested with Koltyrin, but he has not been identified.

Anatoly Razumov, a St. Petersburg historian, called Koltyrin the “keeper” of Sandarmokh. This was clearly an orchestrated effort to discredit him, he said, as “the second person keeping the memory of this place to be detained.”