Ivan Golunov: Russian police drop drug charges against journalist

The arrest of the high-profile investigative reporter sparked an outcry among the public and even some Kremlin allies

Ivan Golunov, a prominent Russian investigative reporter who worked for the independent website Meduza, leaves the cage in a court room in Moscow, Russia, after a ruling to place him under house arrest. AP
Ivan Golunov, a prominent Russian investigative reporter who worked for the independent website Meduza, leaves the cage in a court room in Moscow, Russia, after a ruling to place him under house arrest. AP

Russian police unexpectedly dropped drug possession charges against veteran investigative journalist Ivan Golunov on Tuesday afternoon following an unprecedented outcry from Russia’s cultural elite.

Mr Golunov, 36, a reporter working for the Meduza news website, which is headquartered in neighbouring Latvia, was detained last Thursday on charges of drug possession with the intent to sell. His supporters said the charges were concocted by the authorities to halt his work uncovering corruption.

Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in a statement on Tuesday that the case against Mr Golunov had been dropped because there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

Some police officers involved in the case have also been temporarily removed from duty pending an investigation, Reuters reported.

"I believe that the rights of every citizen, regardless of their profession, must be protected," said Mr Kolokoltsev.

The reaction to Mr Golunov’s arrest among Russia’s fledgling independent mediasphere was loud and unanimous. In an unprecedented move, three of Russia’s leading daily newspapers published identical front pages on Monday bearing the words, “I/we are Ivan Golunov”.

Earlier in the week, pressure had been mounting on the Kremlin to climb down on the charges against Mr Golunov, with a number of Kremlin-friendly public figures, including the speaker of the upper house of parliament Valentina Matviyenko and the head of the state-sponsored RT news network Margarita Simonyan, calling foul.

Published: June 11, 2019 08:16 PM

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