Police in Moscow arrested Meduza investigative journalist Ivan Golunov on June 6.
According to official records, Golunov was arrested and searched around 2:40 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. During the search, officers say they found a package inside his bag containing an “unidentified substance,” which they later identified as mephedrone (a synthetic amphetamine).
Golunov denies having ever seen the package before. He is being charged with possession of a controlled substance, as well as its attempted illegal sale.
Ivan was in police custody for nearly 14 hours before he was allowed to see a lawyer. When an attorney was finally granted access to him, the lawyer says he learned that Golunov was beaten in custody. Golunov was also denied his right to a phone call, and the police refused to take samples from his hands and bag to determine if he was ever in contact with the substance found in his bag.
In a statement, Meduza CEO Galina Timchenko and editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov said they fully believe in Golunov’s innocence. They also say they have reason to think Golunov was arrested because of his work as a journalist: over the years, Ivan has published numerous investigations, exposing corrupt politicians, high-profile businessmen, and various fraudulent schemes.
In recent years, many people, including opposition figures and human rights activists, have been detained in Russia on apparently phony drug charges. This is widely seen as a tool the authorities use to persecute undesirables.