Russian historian goes on trial over Stalin-era research

22nd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A history professor went on trial in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk on Thursday after he obtained lists of people forcibly deported under Stalin.

Mikhail Suprun has been charged with breaching the right to private life by obtaining names of ethnic Germans deported to the northern region during the 1940s and 1950s, For Human Rights, a Moscow-based group, said in a statement.

The case, investigated at the instigation of the FSB security service, has provoked concerns with rights group since Suprun gathered the names and details for research in collaboration with the German Red Cross.

The historian gave an interview to AFP after the investigation was launched in autumn 2009, saying that the FSB had searched his apartment and seized his computer and personal archive.

His research centres on a controversial chapter of Soviet history: Stalin's treatment of ethnic German Soviet citizens, a community that had lived in Russia for centuries, during World War II.

A police colonel, Alexander Dudarev, has also been charged with exceeding his powers by providing Suprun with access to archival case files.

"Suprun was provided with more than 5,000 archive cases for photocopying, containing documents that are the personal and family secret of the citizens," Russia's prosecutor-general's office said in a statement in July.

"Some of the copies were taken away to Germany," it added.

Suprun, the head of the Russian history faculty at the Pomorsky State University in Arkhangelsk, could face a jail sentence of up to two years while Dudarev could face up to four years.

The judge at the trial ordered human rights activists to leave the courtroom, For Human Rights said.

However Suprun himself did not attend the trial at Oktyabrsky district court because of an academic trip outside Russia, the rights group said.

The first hearing was adjourned due to his non-appearance, the court said on its website.

© 2011 AFP

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