Three leading Russian dailies ran identical front pages on Monday in support of an investigative journalist who was arrested on drug charges last week that many believe were trumped up to silence him.
“I/We are Ivan Golunov,” the front pages of the Kommersant, RBC, and Vedomosti newspapers declared, referring to the detained journalist. In an unprecedented show of solidarity in the Russian journalism community, the front pages also featured editorials calling for his release and an investigation into the officers responsible for his arrest.
Golunov disappeared on Thursday afternoon and turned up in police custody over 12 hours later. Several ambulance crews who evaluated him described significant injuries to his ribs and head, though a doctor with ties to the Kremlin and Russian state television later cleared him.
Authorities say that Golunov was found with the synthetic amphetamine mephedrone on his person while making his way through Central Moscow to meet a source. A police raid on his apartment allegedly uncovered cocaine and more mephedrone. He is accused of dealing in these illegal drugs.
Meduza, an independent Russian media outlet that employs Golunov, has rejected the allegations, and has said repeatedly that there is reason to believe Golunov was targeted for an investigation he was working on. Golunov filed a draft just before disappearing, and the outlet intends to publish, it said.
Golunov’s arrest has sparked a unified outcry from the Russian media – both from likely independent outfits and unlikely state-owned or state-friendly outlets. The journalist has also received significant public support, with protesters queuing for a rolling one-man picket outside Moscow police headquarters throughout the weekend.
A Moscow court ruled on Saturday that Golunov can serve under house arrest ahead of his trial, scheduled for August. The move was interpreted by some that the Kremlin may be looking to rein in prosecutors as allegations of impropriety – and public criticisms – mount.
Copies of the three newspapers supporting Golunov were selling out at news stands across Moscow on Monday lunchtime.
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