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The Real Russia. Today. Ivan Golunov goes free

Source: Meduza

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

This day in history: 85 years ago, on June 11, 1934, the Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky died in Moscow at age 37. While Vygotsky had grand visions for studying the human beings who would inhabit a Communist future, he is best known for his extensive work in developmental psychology.
  • Ivan Golunov is cleared of all charges
  • A message from Meduza CEO Galina Timchenko, Meduza Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov, former Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, The Bell founder Elizaveta Osetinskaya, and attorney Sergey Badamshin
  • Five historic days in the case of Ivan Golunov
  • How state TV channels covered the end of Ivan Golunov's case at the top of the hour
  • Moscow City Hall approves June 16 demonstration to support Ivan Golunov
  • State Duma may consider softening punishments for some nonviolent drug offenses, workgroup head says
  • As Ivan Golunov receives notice of dropped charges, Moscow drug enforcement chief deflects questions

Cleared of all charges

Yevgeny Feldman for Meduza

Shortly after 5:00 PM Moscow Time, Russian Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev announced that the attempted drug distribution case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov would be shut down due to a lack of evidence that he committed a crime. Kolokoltsev also said he will fire two high-ranked municipal police officers whose subordinates participated in the case, including the official in charge of narcotics control in Moscow. The law enforcement officials who arrested, examined, and questioned Golunov will not be fired, but those who arrested him will be forced to take a temporary leave of absence while their action are investigated.

Read Meduza's brief and a complete translation of Kolokoltsev's statement: Ivan Golunov to be cleared of all charges

A message from editors and allies ✍️

Dear friends,

The case against Ivan Golunov is closed. This is the result of an unprecedented international solidarity campaign among both journalists and their allies. Together, we made the unbelievable happen: we stopped the criminal prosecution of an innocent man. Thank you!

We are glad that the government has listened to the people. That’s how it should be when injustice occurs.

The freeing of Ivan is an excellent cause for celebration. We want that celebration to bring all of us together. Negotiations with City Hall on the question of organizing a public action tomorrow have reached a dead end. We suggest going out tomorrow and having a bit to drink — and, in the meantime, fighting to receive approval for an action in central Moscow in the coming days. We are certain they will be unable to refuse us.

Those who organized the law enforcement operation against Golunov have not been named. The group of journalists we have gathered together in recent days will continue working, and now, they will be working together with Ivan himself. This is only the beginning. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us if we are to ensure that what happened here will never happen again to anybody.

Galina Timchenko, Ivan Kolpakov, Dmitry Muratov, Elizaveta Osetinskaya, and Sergey Badamshin

Read this statement online here. Read it in Russian here.

A bite-sized summary of the past five days 🍽️

State TV coverage of Ivan Golunov 📺

Rossiya 24

On June 11, drug possession and attempted sale charges against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov were dropped for lack of evidence. The persecution of Golunov, which began when he was arrested on June 6, sparked a historic level of public support, especially among Russian journalists. Early in the case’s proceedings, state media coverage was sparse: Golunov’s arrest was barely mentioned on TV news programs, and even the popular compiler Yandex News somehow failed to bring stories about Golunov to the top of its page. Following an announcement from Russia’s Internal Affairs Minister that Ivan Golunov will be freed, however, even state-owned television programs are airing segments with the news at the top of the hour.

See what that coverage looked like: Golunov everywhere: How state TV channels covered the end of Ivan Golunov's case at the top of the hour

News briefs

  • 🏛️ Moscow City Hall has granted its approval for a demonstration in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov. The event is scheduled to take place on Sakharov Prospect in central Moscow between 1:00 and 3:00 PM on June 16. However, the approval opened up room for tensions between the organizers of what are now three separate demonstrations. Read more here.
  • 👩‍⚖️ A proposal to decrease sentences for drug possession unrelated to attempted sales may be introduced into Russia’s State Duma before the end of the body’s spring session. Numerous calls for reforms to Russia's drug statutes have emerged following the case against Ivan Golunov. Read more here.
  • 🤷‍♂️ Andrey Shchirov, who leads the Moscow police division for drug traffic control, told the independent TV channel Dozhd that he was unsure as to whether he would be placed on leave in the wake of Ivan Golunov's release. “I need to figure out the reasons behind various decisions,” he said. Read more here.

Yours, Meduza