Published: Tue, June 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Russian Federation drops charges against investigative reporter Ivan Golunov

Russian Federation drops charges against investigative reporter Ivan Golunov

"We do not rule out that Golunov's detention and subsequent arrest are linked to his professional activities", they said, adding that the journalist's arrest amounted to an act of intimidation.

Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based Meduza news website, was beaten by police and kept in custody for 12 hours after being detained in central Moscow on 6 June, his lawyer, Sergei Badamshin said.

Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev stunned the nation when he announced that drug dealing charges against Ivan Golunov have been dropped after police found "no proof of his part in a crime". He was transferred to house arrest following a public outpouring of support including from high-profile journalists working for state-owned media.

"Yipee! The criminal case against Golunov has been dropped".

In a statement announcing Golunov's freedom, Meduza's leader thanked what they called "an unprecedented global solidarity campaign" of journalists and others who are committed to free speech.

The journalist's supporters also pointed out inconsistencies in the investigation and raised concerns over how Golunov was treated by the officers during pre-trial detention. Those officers have now been suspended from their official duties, Kolokoltsev said.

Early in the case's proceedings, state media coverage was sparse: Golunov's arrest was barely mentioned on TV news programs, and even the popular compiler Yandex News somehow failed to bring stories about Golunov to the top of its page. Another journalist in Moscow, Alexey Kovalev, asked via Twitter, "Cops who framed him will be investigated".

But the crude way supporters say Mr. Golunov was set up has triggered an unusual show of media unity and an uncharacteristically swift response from authorities nervous about social unrest at a time when President Vladimir Putin already faces disquiet over living standards. Another rally, planned for June 16, has been approved by the authorities.

But that changed a bit on Thursday, Bershidsky says, when Golunov published a story about Moscow's funeral industry "which implicated a number of law enforcement officials, including some officers in the FSB secret police, in running a protection racket".

Golunov denies all charges, insisting that he had never handled or took drugs.

As Golunov's former colleague Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg, Golunov is a well-respected journalist whose work has mostly dealt with exposing corruption at the lower levels of life in Moscow rather than taking on the heads of its power structure.

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