Investigative journalist for Meduza detained on drug charges in Moscow - RFE/RL
Photo credits: from the RFE/RL website Prominent Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov from the Latvia-based independent Meduza news site has been detained and beaten in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs, his lawyer and employer said, adding that he rejects the charge, as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty informed. Golunov's lawyer, Dmitry Dzhulai, told Meduza that police detained his client on June 6 in the afternoon in downtown Moscow and later took out a bag apparently containing drugs from his backpack. Golunov denied that the bag belonged to him, Dzhulai said. Another bag and scales were found later in his apartment. Tests revealed that the substance was a synthetic stimulant drug, mephedrone and Golunov is now suspected of attempted illegal drugs distribution, which he rejects, Dzhulai said, adding that his client is convinced that the drugs had been planted. Dzhulai also said Golunov was beaten and was prevented from calling his lawyer or relatives for several hours after he was detained. Dzhulai says his request to take samples from Golunov's hands and his nails for forensics tests was rejected by police. Police also rejected a request by Golunov and his lawyer to call an ambulance to document injuries Golunov sustained while being beaten. Moscow police have denied in a statement that Golunov was beaten while in custody. Golunov is known for his investigations into corruption among officials in Moscow and its surroundings. 'Politically Motivated' Meduza's director-general, Galina Timchenko, and chief editor Ivan Kolpakov issued a statement on June 7, demanding Golunov's release. "We are confident that Ivan Golunov is not guilty. Moreover, we have all the reasons to believe that Golunov was targeted because of his journalistic activities. We know that in recent months he received threats, we know the reasons why he was threatened and we have an idea from whom the threats came," the statement says, without giving details. The statement adds that Meduza "will defend its journalist by all possible means." Russia opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny said that he has "no doubt" Golunov's detention was politically motivated. Navalny said it was an attempt by Moscow authorities to silence him ahead of regional elections in September. Meduza was established in October 2014 and is run by journalists who resigned from their jobs at Lenta.ru following Timchenko's unexpected dismissal as Lenta.ru's chief editor by the website's owner Aleksandr Mamut. Timchenko said then that the decision to base Meduza in the Latvian capital, Riga, was made because "right now, establishing an independent Russian language media outlet in Latvia is possible, while in Russia it is not." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
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