Helping Russia's helpers How to support the news outlets and human rights projects that support Russians when they need it most
The drug case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was shut down after an unprecedented solidarity campaign led by other journalists, and attorneys from nonprofit human rights projects have been a fixture of Golunov’s legal defense. In the week after Golunov was arrested, about 150 people signed up for regular donations to Mediazona, a news outlet that specializes in reporting on Russian law enforcement agencies and court cases. Meanwhile, OVD-Info, a project that sheds light on arrest proceedings and offers resources to arrestees, received more donations than it usually does on average in an entire month. Nonetheless, more regular donations are necessary for these organizations to continue providing objective coverage of the Russian legal world and effective aid for those who find themselves facing the system alone. Meduza explains how you can (and should!) support those who supported Ivan Golunov and would support you as well if the Russian government began prosecuting you illegally.
This online news outlet was founded in 2014 by Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina under the slogan “Russian public life is about criminal cases and the courts.” Time proved them right. Every day, Mediazona covers the most important goings-on in Russian police stations, courts, and prison colonies.
This international group was founded by experienced human rights attorneys. In 2018, Agora released a project called Protest Apologetics that reports on Russian legal cases related to the right to peaceful protests. As soon as Ivan Golunov’s arrest became public, Agora attorney Dmitry Dzhulai came to his assistance, and the group’s lawyers led the journalist’s legal team from then on.
This division of the nonprofit organization Open Russia has been in operation since 2015. Ivan Golunov’s current legal representative is Open Russia’s Human Rights Project attorney Sergey Badamshin. Badamshin had previously represented Ekho Moskvy journalist Tatiana Felgengauer, who was attacked in her own newsroom, and media manager Anton Nosik, who was charged with inciting hatred.
Since 2009, the Foundation has worked to educate Russians about drug policy and to humanize drug laws both in Russia and in the rest of the world. The foundation also has programs in place to prevent infections among drug users and offer them legal representation. It advocates for the decriminalization of drug use and possession without intent to distribute.
The Help Needed Foundation opened this journalistic offshoot to narrate the stories and problems of ordinary people. The project also raises funds for other nonprofits. Takie Dela regularly covers the obstacles vulnerable people, including those struggling with drug addiction, face in Russia. It also sheds light on people who have simply fallen on hard times.
This independent organization was founded in 2016 following two turning points in the threat to Russian journalists’ safety: an attack on journalists on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia and a criminal case against RBC correspondent Alexander Sokolov.