Yuri Dmitriev digs up what today’s Russian rulers would prefer to forget. After years of searching, he finds a mass grave containing thousands of secretly executed people during Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’ of 1937 in the coniferous forests of Karelia in north-west Russia.
Not the Russian government, but Dmitriev tirelessly traces their identities in the archives and organises commemorations for the bereaved families. Thanks to his efforts, they finally know where their disappeared relatives went. That he himself was abandoned as a baby in a maternity hospital makes him a man on a mission: ‘As a human being, you should be allowed to know where you came from and where your family is buried.’
As foreign countries increasingly recognise this ‘archaeologist of terror’, Dmitriev is suspected in Russia as someone who colludes with the West. Then he is arrested, on fabricated charges. Tragically precise, Dmitriev predicts his own future and that of his country.