Russian journalist Golunov freed as drug charges dropped

A Russian investigative journalist walked free on Tuesday after a drug case against him was dropped for lack of evidence, local reports said quoting interior minister.

Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said the case against reporter Ivan Golunov was re-examined in light of complaint by the accused and media that he was framed for exposing corruption in high places.

Authorities found the evidence collected against Golunov weak and the charges levelled against him invalid.

Kolokoltsev said he will recommend the sacking of a senior counter-drug investigator and two officers of the Moscow narcotics unit over the scandal which came as an embarrassment for President Vladimir Putin.

The rights of every citizen, regardless of their profession, must be protected, Kolokoltsev said.

Earlier, Golunov claimed the drugs found in his backpack and at his home were planted by police. The journalist said he was beaten by police while in custody and he suffered injuries.

He told a member of the presidential human rights council who visited him in detention how police punched him in the face and stood on his chest causing injuries to his rib cage.

The presidential human rights council, which helps Putin in guaranteeing and protecting human rights and freedoms in Russia, welcomed Golunov’s release adding that it is not the end of the story.

Galina Timchenko, the editor-in-chief of the news website Meduza, for which Golunov works, said she was happy and crying after learning the news.

The editorial team of Meduza and other leading journalists said they are happy that the authorities listened to society.

Russia’s trade union of journalists wrote on its Telegram channel that there is need to close more such cases against journalists.

Reporters without Borders hailed the historic mobilisation of the Russian civil society.

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny said Golunov’s example shows what one can achieve by expressing solidarity with someone in trouble.

In an unprecedented move, newspapers Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBK published identical front pages on Monday with the headline ‘I am/We are Ivan Golunov.’