Publicado: Mier, Junio 12, 2019
Global | Por Milagro Delgado

Russian Investigative Journalist Golunov To Be Freed, Charges Dropped

Russian Investigative Journalist Golunov To Be Freed, Charges Dropped

In a stunning turnaround, Russian authorities Tuesday abruptly dropped all charges against a prominent investigative reporter after a public and media outcry over his arrest, and they promised to go after the police who allegedly tried to frame him as a drug dealer.

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"A huge thank you for your support", Golunov told journalists and supporters as he walked out of the gates with tears running down his cheeks.

Journalists and activists reacted with joy to the surprise announcement, which came as thousands of supporters planned to rally in Moscow after days of smaller demonstrations.

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.

He faced 20 years in prison if convicted on the drug manufacturing and supply charges for which he had been arrested.

The case, though, quickly seemed to unravel.

Police released pictures of a drug laboratory that Golunov allegedly ran but later admitted that only one of the photos was taken in the journalist's apartment.

On Tuesday, authorities seemed to yield to the criticism. Today, he will be freed from house arrest, and the charges against him will be cleared.

"I have made a decision to ask the Russian president to dismiss Head of the Interior Ministry's branch in the Western Administrative District of Moscow Police Major General Andrei Puchkov and Head of the Drug Control Department of the Interior Ministry's Moscow branch Police Major General Yuri Devyatkin", Kolokoltsev added. The officers who arrested him have been suspended while the investigative committee examines their actions.

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It was a remarkable retreat for Russian law enforcement in the face of popular pressure.

The charges against him were so serious that, given the typical Russian practice, Golunov seemed likely to spend months in jail ahead of a trial in which prosecutors would nearly surely get their way.

"I'm happy, I'm crying".

"This is only the beginning, and much work lies ahead to make sure that what happened is never repeated with anyone", Kolpakov, Meduza CEO Galina Timchenko, and other Golunov supporters said in a statement. "We all together have done the unbelievable: stopped the criminal prosecution of an innocent person".

Hundreds of journalists and supporters gathered outside the courthouse on Sunday NZT, their chants heard inside the courtroom.

The three leading daily newspapers - Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBK - all carried the same headline on Monday in a rare show of solidarity: "I am/We are Ivan Golunov". The journalist's arrest last Thursday shocked many in Russian Federation, especially as he was accused of being involved in a drug ring. Celebrities, including those normally who remain outside politics, posted messages in support.

The papers dismissed evidence presented in the case against the journalist.

Forensic tests found no proof that the journalist, Ivan Golunov, committed drug-related crimes, Kolokoltsev said.

The case sparked outrage in Russian Federation and overseas over what critics slammed as the impunity and corruption of law enforcement agencies.

Matviyenko, who is nominally the third most powerful politician in Russian Federation, said the case had been taken under the personal control of Yury Chaika, the prosecutor general.

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