Ivan Golunov is free, but pressure on the media in Russia continues

Russian journalist Ivan Golunov released

Investigating the actions of representatives of the Russian government is still a dangerous business

MOSCOW – Independent media outlets in Russia have experienced several troubling days when authorities accused prominent investigative journalist Ivan Golunov of drug production and distribution, presenting what observers say is dubious evidence..

The indignation of fellow journalists and the public, which reached unprecedented proportions, led the Ministry of Internal Affairs to drop the charges against Golunov and remove from work the employees involved in the initiation of this case..

After five days in custody, Ivan Golunov was cleared of drug trafficking charges, which could have put him in jail for 20 years. He was released thanks to amazing and unprecedented support from civil society, activists and fellow journalists..

“I think this shows the tremendous solidarity of journalists that this "insurrection" professionals, not a frivolous protest, but an uprising of real professionals who survived in independent Russian journalism, “said Dmitry Muratov, Chairman of the editorial board of Novaya Gazeta.

Two days after Golunov’s arrest, Russian independent newspapers published the headlines “I / We are Ivan Golunov” on the front page. These issues were sold out in kiosks in a matter of minutes..

Journalists believe that charges against Golunov were fabricated.

“It would be strange if someone was simultaneously engaged in investigative journalism and drug trafficking..Ivan Golunov is free, but pressure on the media in Russia continues It’s so absurd! ”Said Anton Orekh, a journalist for the Ekho Moskvy radio station..

The release of Ivan Golunov and the sacking of Interior Ministry officials responsible for the investigation did not stop supporters of a free press from demonstrating in central Moscow. Unauthorized protest rally ends in arrests of over 500 people.

Then a second action took place, this time already authorized by the authorities. The demonstrators were outraged by the fact that the Russian police, in their opinion, are increasingly engaged in arbitrariness.

“I came here because I am worried that what happened to Golunov could happen to anyone – to you, to me,” said a demonstrator named Alexander.

Golunov’s release was a surprise victory for press freedom advocates in Russia, a country where independent media are under increasing pressure. The Golunov case reminded that the investigation of the acts of those in power in Russia is still a dangerous business.

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