Beds bolted to the floor. A table bolted to the floor. A public monitor commission member describes the conditions of Ivan Golunov’s first two days in jail
On Saturday, June 8, around eight in the morning, public monitoring commission member and Dozhd journalist Kogershyn Sagieva visited the temporary detention facility where Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov is currently being held on felony drug charges. Sagieva told Meduza about the conditions at the jail, what Golunov says about what’s happened, and why he isn’t eating.
Ivan Golunov was arrested on Thursday, June 6, for alleged possession of illegal narcotics with the intent to distribute. He was arrested in violation of Russia’s laws, and statements by the police raise serious doubts about the validity of this criminal case.
As a member of the public monitoring commission, I have the right to visit detainees and criminal suspects. We spent about 20 minutes with Ivan. He looks tired, but I was happy to see that he’s still in good condition. It was only by talking to us that he learned about the pickets in his support yesterday. It was only from us that he found out that journalists are supporting him en masse and recording video messages for him. He was incredibly happy when we told him about this. He was very touched, and it was odd that nobody had told him about it already.
The temporary detention facilities are okay — this isn’t a remand prison. It is a jail, of course, but there have at least been some updates, [albeit] 10 years ago. Ivan is being held in cell one, which is good. We [the public monitoring commission members] requested this, and we believe it’s very important. He wanted it himself. [In this cell] there’s a surveillance camera, three beds bolted to the floor, a table bolted to the floor, mattresses, and checkered blankets. He slept on disposable bed sheets.
Ivan isn’t refusing to eat: he just doesn’t have an appetite. He isn’t really even thinking about food [after two days in police custody]. He was under stress, and it didn’t occur to him to eat. He’s now in good condition; he ate at night; they gave him some food; he ate some noodles, and they gave him some boiling water. He was very glad that tea is allowed. We can’t discuss the criminal case with him directly — only related things. Vanya’s a smart person, and he said he understands what’s happening. He understands how serious the charges are and how long the prison sentence could be [up to 20 years]. He’s a realist, but I was pleased at the same time that he’s maintaining high spirits. Today in court, he plans to make some kind of speech, and I’m eager to hear it. Maybe it will be something he didn’t say to me. He was writing it, when I was with him.
Translation by Kevin Rothrock