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 June 6th, 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 arrestation and beating raised a wave of support among press freedom defenders in Russia. The three Russian newspapers Vedomosti, RBC, and Kommersant published yesterday a similar frontpage with the headline “I/We are Ivan Golunov”. On Friday, at least 100 people had demonstrated in the center of Moscow against Golunov’s arrest. Several journalists who had been arrested have been released the same day.
On 11th June, the Russian police announced it dropped all charges against Ivan Golunov.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger 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. We welcome the drop of the charges against Ivan, but strongly condemn his detention and urge Russian authorities to protect media freedom."
Update: On 28 October, the Moscow City Court will begin hearings against five police officers who were involved in the arrest of Golunov. They are charged with “abuse of power, evidence tampering and illegal drug trafficking” for allegedly planting the drugs on the journalist, according to the Russian Legal Information Agency.