The arrest and prosecution for drugs against a reputed Russian investigative journalist, in a case plagued by irregularities, has massively mobilized independent media across the country. Come in the case against Ivan Golunov, known for uncovering several corruption scandals involving the Moscow elite, not just as an attempt to restrain an uncomfortable journalist; Also as a threat to anyone who pulls the blanket.
Golunov, 36, works at Meduza, an independent media on-line which also has an English version. He is accused of large-scale drug trafficking, and must remain under house arrest for two months. He says that someone "put" the narcotics. Also they tried to force him to sign a confession. The authorities, who took 14 hours to report his arrest, say they found 3.56 grams of mephedrone (a synthetic drug) in his backpack and 5.42 grams of cocaine in his home. And they came to publish on the Internet the photographs of the material seized, awarding it to Golunov. Afterwards, they were erased. His colleagues and those responsible for other media where he has worked assure that he is innocent.
"The Golunov case is a challenge for the entire Russian journalistic community. It is an aggression against the little that remains of freedom of expression and of press in the country ", laments Ígor Yasin, of the Independent Union of Journalists of Russia. "The corrupt officials and the big companies try with crude assemblies like that to cover the mouth of all those who criticize them and denounce poverty, corruption and repression," Yasin remarks.
At least eight journalists and activists have been arrested in recent years on the same charges as Golunov. As Oyub Titiev, director of the office in Chechnya of the human rights organization Memorial. The same as the opposition Serguéy Réznikov, the Other Russia activist Taísiya Ósipova, the reporter Nikolai Yarst or the Chechen journalist Zalaudí Geríev, who has spent three years in prison.
The Meduza informant faces a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Since his arrest on Friday, thousands of people have taken to the streets throughout Russia to demand his release. Journalist colleagues but also citizens have participated in what is known as solitary pickets, a creative way to circumvent the prohibition of demonstrating without authorization. And they have taken turns, one by one, to hold banners in solidarity with Golunov, for press freedom and against authoritarianism. "I am the journalist Ivan Golunov. Also drop me, "said one. "Ivan Golunov, free. Out fascists. They will not pass, "read another.
This Monday, three Russian newspapers of important circulation, Vedomosti, Kommersant Y RBC, will come with the same first page. In it, in large, it reads: "I am / We are Ivan Golunov." And a joint statement in defense of the prosecuted journalist and for the freedom of the press. A historic initiative
All kinds of celebrities have joined the unprecedented mobilization. From rappers like Oxxxymiron and rappers like Boris Grebenshikov to former presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak. Or film directors, among others Andrey Zvyagintsev, and writers like Ludmila Ulitskaya.
Meanwhile, the media in the Kremlin's orbit reported the arrest of the journalist they were portraying as a large-scale drug trafficker. A state television station claimed he was drunk and drugged during the arrest. And at the same time it showed a medical part that indicated the opposite.
His case comes as the Russian authorities try to reinforce the control of the Network. In recent months, the Government has passed a law condemning the publication of "offenses" to the authorities and another that pursues what it considers false news . In addition, Russia is working on a digital steel curtain model that shines the country and filters content on the Internet. Last week, the authorities ordered the Tinder dating application to share the data of its users. The same as the giant Yandex, a search engine and news aggregator (the Russian Google) very popular.
Russia ranks 149th out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index; behind Venezuela and Honduras. The Independent Union of Journalists also assures that in recent times the persecution against informants in the Eurasian country has increased. Especially outside the big capitals. In the last year, three cases of "justification of terrorism" against journalists have been initiated, and others for "extortion" and "slander", they say.
The independent media denounce the obstacles to reporting and the daily intimidation they face. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in the United States, 50 journalists have died in strange circumstances in Russia since 1992; 38 of them in clear cases of murder. As Anna Politkovskaya, in 2006, or Anastasia Babúrova, in 2009.
Ivan Golunov has written about the mafias in Moscow funeral homes and their links with senior officials of the City Council and neo-Nazi organizations. Also on the conflicts of interest of the deputy mayor of the capital and the investments of his relatives in luxury real estate. Now he was preparing an article that has not yet been completed and that could be extended to the Russian federal security service. With a ban on communicating during two months of house arrest, Meduza is creating a consortium of independent Russian journalists to complete that investigation. In addition, it has released the copyrights of all Golunov articles and encouraged them to be published in any format.
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