Criminal Case Against Meduza Special Reporter Ivan Golunov Has Been Terminated

News12 June 2019

Minister of Internal Affairs Kolokoltsev will request the President to suspend the heads of two departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs responsible for reporter’s arrest until the inspection is over.

Ivan Golunov will be released from house arrest on Tuesday, 11 June, the minister told TASS.

Meduza special reporter, well-known investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was detained by the police on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow at 2:40 pm on 6 June. His colleagues were the first to announce that in the morning of 7 June.

It was reported that during the inspection of Ivan’s personal belongings and the ensuing search of his apartment the law enforcement officers found drugs – mephedrone – on him, which he allegedly was going to sell.

Following the statement made by Meduza, Ivan is sure that the illegal substance was planted on him. Almost all his colleagues have no doubt about it.

Practically all of them stress the fact that the reporter was arrested because of his professional activity. In particular, the reason probably is his forthcoming investigative report on mortuary business in Moscow.

BBC Russian Service reports that at the moment of his detention Golunov was on his way to meet with a source of his and discuss some yet to be published material.

According to other sources, he was going to meet with a friend of his, a journalist, Ilya Vasyunin. It is worth emphasizing that Golunov has no history of consuming illegal psychoactive substances. Moreover, an attorney had not been allowed to him for a long period of time after the detention, so Golunov had gone through the search without a legal representative.

Based on data published in the Internet, after the medical examination it turned out that the reporter had been beaten during the interrogation. What is more, the law enforcement officials refused to make swabs from his hands as these might have confirmed his innocence.

At the same time Baza published fraudulent photos of drugs and clandestine laboratoriy allegedly found in the reporter’s apartment. After that the photos were published on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, eventually they had to admit that the photos had not been taken in the Golunov’s apartment and had nothing to do with the search mentioned above.

BBC reports that a representative of the Prosecutor-General’s office Alexander Kurennoy has already stated that investigation of the criminal case under the article 228.1 of the Criminal Code (sentenced from 10 to 20 years of imprisonment) brought against the journalist Golunov, is supervised by the Prosecutor of the Moscow Northern Administrative District.

He stated that the Public Prosecutor compiled with the instituting the case, which, “however, does not mean that the guilt was proved”.

Leading Russian journalists supported their colleague. Svetlana Reiter (BBC Russian Service), Ilya Rozhdestvensky (Project), Pavel Kanygin (Novaya Gazeta), Ilya Barabanov (ex-Kommersant), Olesya Shmagun and Roman Shleynov (OCCRP) are among them.

Mortuary business in Moscow, which obviously was the issue Golunov was going to highlight, had been raising questions for Russian journalists before, especially after the well-known case of ‘Khovansky bloodbath’. Kommersant featured this material in a separate article.

It is worth noting that when the case had received wide publicity, thе cemetery director Yury Chabuev and the co-founder of the NGO ‘The Healthy Nation’ Alexander Bocharnikov were accused of arranging a murder. Later they were convicted to serve the sentence in a strict regime colony, 11 and 9 years, respectively. 

Numerous journalistic investigations (the case of ‘Khovansky bloodbath’ is among them) show that stories like that might affect high officials' interests, though not directly. 

For instance, more than a year ago Novaya Gazeta, that dealt with the topic, wrote about the link between ‘The Healthy Nation’ and Dmitry Sablin, Member of the Federation Council. 

We do not know yet what facts and people are involved in the current Golunov's investigation but all his previous journalistic pursuits affected high-ranking officials as well as the siloviki.

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