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Journalist organisations welcome dropped charges against Russian journalist Ivan Golunov

11 June 2019

Journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested in Russia on Thursday 6 June on drug-dealing accusations, causing a public outcry that prompted the authorities to drop all the charges against him.

While welcoming this decision, the International and European Federations of Journalists and National Union of Journalists called on the government to stop harassing journalists.

Ivan Golunov is a reporter for the independent Meduza news website. He is well known for his work investigating corruption among Moscow city officials. He showed how relatives of Moscow’s deputy mayor Pyotr Biryukov earned billions on city contracts, amassing a fortune in real estate.

Police said Golunov was carrying several bags of mephedrone, a club drug, when he was stopped and searched on a Moscow street on his way to a meeting with a source.

Golunov said the bags were planted and accused police officers of punching and kicking him while in detention. He reportedly suffered from concussion, bruising and possible broken ribs. He was also deprived of his right to call his lawyer or colleagues more than 12 hours after his arrest.

Golunov's treatment led to a wave of support among press freedom defenders in Russia. The three Russian newspapers Vedomosti, RBC, and Kommersant published a similar frontpage with the headline “I/We are Ivan Golunov”.  On Friday 8 June, at least 100 people demonstrated in the centre of Moscow against Golunov’s arrest. Several journalists who had been arrested were released the same day.

The Russian police announced it had dropped all charges against Ivan Golunov.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

"The mobilisation of civil society and newsrooms in support of Ivan Golunov is good news for the state of press freedom in Russia. It indicates that the regime can no longer silence critical voices with impunity. Harassment of journalists in Russia has to stop."

Tags: , international, russia, Ivan Golunov, journalists arrested, Meduza, Vedomosti, RBC, Kommersant, ifj, efj