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Dmitry Poletaev (center) in court, May 8, 2018

The girls have gone free, but what about Dima? Russian extremism case suspect begs for help, as co-defendants are released on house arrest

Source: Meduza
Dmitry Poletaev (center) in court, May 8, 2018
Dmitry Poletaev (center) in court, May 8, 2018
Radio Liberty

Anna Pavlikova and Maria Dubovik, the two teenage women locked up as members of the “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremist movement, went “free” on house arrest last week. Activists celebrated the news, but 30-year-old Dmitry Poletaev — another suspect in the case — has been in pretrial detention since March 16, and he’s just shared a letter with the OVD-Info human rights media project where he says he’s “desperate for any support, moral or financial,” to help him get out of jail. Poletaev sent the letter through his mother, who redacted some of the text.

Poletaev claims he was the victim of someone “trying to stir up trouble” who “cleverly and cynically embedded himself” in their group. He says this person tried to “turn ordinary people into combatants,” and taught Novoe Velichie’s members “idealistic worldviews,” in order to manipulate them. Poletaev never names the “provocateur” who infiltrated the group, but journalists have reported that an undercover police officer joined Novoe Velichie, posing as someone named “Ruslan.”

In jail, Poletaev says he’s come to understand what it means to be in a place “where you’re 80-percent restricted wherever you go,” adding that he sympathizes with parents whose children wake up in a jail cell. “And may God grant their sons/daughters more or less decent cellmates,” Poletaev wrote in his letter.

Part of Poletaev’s letter from pretrial detention.

Poletaev wrote the letter on August 4, 2018 (the “4.08.17” is a typo) — almost two weeks before Anna Pavlikova and Maria Dubovik were released from jail on house arrest, at the request of state investigators, who said there were “no grounds for their further detention.” (The request followed a concerted public campaign to secure the women’s release.)

Four suspects in the Novoe Velichie case remain behind bars. In addition to Dmitry Poletaev, there’s the group's supposed leader, Ruslan Kostylenkov, and two more participants: Vyacheslav Kryukov and Petr Karamzin. The remaining six defendants have been released on house arrest. On August 16, the Solidarity With Political Prisoners Union announced a crowdfunding effort for the Novoe Velichie suspects. The money will support legal fees and care packages sent to the people still in jail.

Text by Alexander Baklanov, translation by Kevin Rothrock

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