Russian Stalin-era Great Terror exposer freed from jail pending trial

FILE PHOTO - Historian Yuri Dmitriev accused of using his adopted daughter to produce child pornography, of illegally possessing a firearm, and of depravity, is escorted by a police officer upon his arrival for a court hearing in Petrozavodsk, Russia June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Igor Podgorny

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian human rights activist who helped to expose the Stalin-era Great Terror and found mass graves of thousands of the victims was freed from jail, while pending trial on child pornography charges, local media reported on Saturday.

Yuri Dmitriev, 61, is on trial in northwest Russia on charges brought by state prosecutors of involving his adopted daughter, then 11, in child pornography, of illegally possessing “the main elements of” a firearm, and of depravity involving a minor.

The Memorial human rights group, for which he works, said, citing Novaya Gazeta, that Dmitriev arrived at home on Saturday morning.

He denies the charges, saying he took the pictures of the daughter were made for a diary to present the evidence of he improved state of health for the state child care organizations.

Some of Russia’s leading cultural figures say Dmitriev was framed because his focus on Stalin’s crimes - he found a mass grave with up to 9,000 bodies dating from the Soviet dictator’s Great Terror in the 1930s - jars with the latter-day Kremlin narrative that Russia must not be ashamed of its past.

The narrative has taken on added importance ahead of a March presidential election which polls show incumbent Vladimir Putin, who uses his country’s World War Two victory when Stalin was in charge to bolster national pride, is on track to win.

Earlier this week, the government barred a satirical film ‘The Death of Stalin’ from Russian movie theaters, deeming it inappropriate to release the film on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the World War Two Battle of Stalingrad.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Stephen Powell