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‘This case has raised numerous questions’ A transcript of the Kremlin's first comments on Ivan Golunov's case

Source: Meduza
Yevgeny Feldman

On June 10, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov discussed the persecution against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov at length for the first time. A transcript of the conversation is translated below.

Meduza: What comments can the Kremlin offer now on the criminal case against Ivan Golunov?

Dmitry Peskov: The Kremlin cannot comment on Golunov’s criminal case. I can only tell you that the president was briefed on the case in St. Petersburg on Friday. He was briefed on the fact that this is a very high-profile case. The Kremlin, as you know, does not have the right to comment on cases, and it will not do so this time either. However, given the fact that this case is very, very high-profile, of course, we are monitoring all the details very carefully. That’s all I can say.

Meduza: A clarification question about one of your own statements. On Friday, June 7, you responded to questions about Ivan Golunov by pointing to photos police claimed to have published of Ivan’s home. Several hours after that response, the police admitted that most of the photographs published had nothing to do with Golunov’s home. What is the Kremlin’s evaluation of the police’s work given that they misinformed both society and the highest centers of government, including yourself, in the hours following the arrest of a well-known journalist?

Peskov: Yes, it’s true that we were guided by the information published by the police. And then we took into account the correction that the police also published. In this case, we cannot be guided by any information apart from official information that reaches us from the police — the correct police organs. I repeat, we noted the corrections that were published. Of course, we are also proceeding with the knowledge that a number of questions on the agenda still require clarification.

Meduza: Does the Kremlin intend to react in any way to reports of violations in Golunov’s case that are confirmed in the documents presented to the court by the prosecution? For example, to the fact that the journalist could not make contact with friends and family or request an attorney for 13 hours?

Peskov: As you know, the function of responding to violations in the work of these agencies and investigative bodies belongs to the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Prosecutor General’s Office has access to all case materials. And we have no doubt that the Prosecutor General’s Office will fulfill its function.

Dozhd: There have been reports that Anton Kobyakov, an advisor to the president, has taken this under his direct control in the Kremlin. Who within the Kremlin is currently following this case? Will this issue be raised during the president’s meeting with [Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana] Miskalkova today?

Peskov: My colleague Kobyakov said that he will, of course, study and familiarize himself with all available case materials. In that sense, he will take control. I repeat, we are following the development of this case very carefully; we are following all the nuances. That’s what I can say. Because it really is a high-profile case, and it will require special attention. But first and foremost, that is a reason for constant attention from the Prosecutor General’s Office and other agencies within the [Internal Affairs] Ministry itself. Attention to the possible presence or absence of violations.

Dozhd: Thank you. And about Moskalkova, if there will be a meeting with the president? Is it not clear yet?

Peskov: You’ll find out about all that later. (Moskalkova later said the two did discuss Ivan Golunov’s case — Meduza)

Kommersant-FM: Today, three business newspapers — RBC, Vedomosti, and Kommersant, were printed with identical front pages dedicated to Ivan Golunov. More generally, this topic has been in the news all weekend and today as well. And pickets outside Moscow’s police headquarters are continuing into their fourth day. It’s obvious that both the journalism community and society more broadly has serious doubts about the objectivity of the investigation and the accusations against Golunov. How serious, from the Kremlin’s point of view, is the problem of distrust toward law enforcement agencies and the judicial system in society and the media? How can that trust be restored?

Peskov: I am not a fan of generalizations. I repeat, this particular case really has raised certain questions. More accurately, not certain questions — numerous questions. We see that. We have meticulously recorded that. But I believe leaning on this case to come to generalized conclusions about distrust of an entire system would be inaccurate.

Ekho Moskvy: Following the publication of those photographs, has the Kremlin’s trust toward the police changed in any way? Has that trust been undermined or not? To what degree does the Kremlin doubt or not doubt the objectivity of [the police’s] investigations into its own violations if they occurred?

Peskov: I do not believe I have the right to answer that question. It’s impossible. On the other hand, I can certainly say that, of course, the proper explanations must be provided — the reasons behind any errors. An error in itself is possible because human beings are involved all around. You can’t count out errors anywhere or in anything. Journalists also make errors when they write reports of various kinds. And in large numbers, too. The most important thing is to acknowledge those errors after the fact and explain how they occurred with the aim of preventing them from occurring again in the future.

Ekho Moskvy: Has the Kremlin considered any resignations after what has happened?

Peskov: I don’t think I can say any more than I have already said on this topic.

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Translation by Hilah Kohen