Russian journalist Ivan Golunov (C), who was freed from house arrest after police abruptly dropped drugs charges against him, meets with the media and supporters outside the office of criminal investigations in Moscow, Russia on June 11, 2019.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in a statement that the criminal case against Golunov was being dropped due to a lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on his part. Those officers have now been suspended from their official duties, Kolokoltsev said. In a surprising turnaround, Russia's police chief on Tuesday dropped all charges against a prominent investigative reporter whose detention sparked public outrage and promised to go after the police officers who tried to frame the journalist as a drug-dealer.
"I am happy, I'm crying".
The case sparked outrage in Russian Federation and overseas over what critics slammed as the impunity and corruption of law enforcement agencies. After being beaten in custody and detained for 12 hours without access to a lawyer, Golunov was placed under house arrest and was facing drug dealing charges that carry a potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
Former Canadian justice minister and Raoul Wallenberg Centre chairman, Irwin Cotler, said in a statement the report "exposes and unmasks" the Russian government's "culture of corruption and criminality". The few opposition and independent media that still operate in Russian Federation are under huge pressure, Kremlin critics say.
"I believe that, regardless of their professional affiliation, the rights of any citizen should always be protected", Kolokoltsev said. Moscow police admitted photographs published on its website that they said showed drug paraphernalia found at the crime scene were not taken at Golunov's flat.
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Newshounds With out Borders tweeted: "We hail the historic mobilisation of the Russian civil society".
Despite the victory, Meduza says the work to prevent anyone else being treated in a similar way has only just begun.
Freeland, a journalist before she entered politics, told reporters, "We are following the current situation in Russian Federation very closely and with great interest and attention".
In a show of rare solidarity, Russia's three major newspapers on Monday put out almost identical front pages to support a detained journalist. He expressed confidence that prosecutors will look into possible violations of Golunov's rights, and dismissed suggestion that the police handling of the case undermines public trust in law enforcement agencies. A drug test on Monday for a court hearing found that Golunov had not consumed any illegal substances.
Authorities had said the pro-Golunov demonstrators could hold a rally this coming Sunday, but protesters thought acceding to such a delay could have sapped a sense of momentum. According to social media statistics, the name Ivan Golunov was mentioned more often than any other name on social media on Tuesday, including that of President Putin. By Monday, the newspaper had already run another long article on "free speech" in Russian Federation, quoting one figure associated with the liberal opposition after another, to decry the assault on free speech under Putin and praise the opposition's activities on YouTube.