Russia: arrest of journalist on drugs charge part of 'depressingly familiar pattern'

Ivan Golunov is a well-respected investigative journalist in Russia © Natalia Vlasova / Facebook

Ivan Golunov - who had been investigating government corruption - appears to have been beaten in custody

He faces eight years in jail on ‘dubious’ drugs charge

‘Everything indicates that the authorities are planting drugs on their targets to shut them up with a jail sentence’ - Natalia Zviagina

Reacting to news that prominent Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov has been charged with drugs possession amid allegations that he was detained incommunicado and beaten in custody, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Office Director, said: 

“The circumstances of Ivan Golunov’s detention sound dubious and follow a depressingly familiar pattern. 

“A Russian journalist who has been critical of the authorities is detained by men in plain clothes, denied a meeting with his lawyer, complains of beatings and subsequently looks injured. 

“This case is virtually a ‘cut and paste’ of the recent example of outspoken critic and Chechen human rights defender Oyub Titiyev

“Everything indicates that the authorities are planting drugs on their targets to shut them up with a jail sentence. 

“Ivan Golunov is a prominent critic and his investigations into government corruption clearly did not go down well with the authorities. It seems he is now paying the price.

“Golunov’s allegations that he was beaten by police and held incommunicado should be immediately investigated.”

Investigations into government corruption

Ivan Golunov works for the Latvia-based Meduza online news outlet and has spent years investigating corruption in government procurement, real estate and funeral services.

He was detained in Moscow yesterday at around 2.30pm, though police initially said he was detained today. According to his lawyer, he was held incommunicado for 12 hours and repeatedly beaten by police. He is charged with “attempted illegal production, distribution or transfer of drugs”, after an unknown substance was supposedly found in his bag and at his home. If found guilty, he faces eight years in prison.

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