It's been more than a month since Ivan Golunov was framed, charged, and released. What's happened to his story since?
Thirty outlets published Ivan Golunov’s latest report, garnering 2.5 million hits.
On July 1, thirty leading Russian and international news outlets simultaneously published the report Ivan Golunov was working on just before his arrest. Journalists from seven Russian media sources had already begun working to complete the report before Golunov’s release. By July 16, about 2.5 million people had read Golunov’s exposé, which shed light on corruption and FSB ties in the Moscow funeral industry. 700,000 of those readers accessed the report on Meduza. Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said in early July that Kremlin officials had seen the article. He added that Russian intelligence services also “had the opportunity to familiarize themselves” with the report, which includes allegations of misconduct committed by intelligence operatives. Peskov said any further investigation of those claims is now “the prerogative of those agencies.” There have not yet been any other official responses to the report. However, shortly before it was published, Russia’s federal property registration agency altered its record of a luxury property belonging to Alexey Dorofeyev, the head of the FSB branch for Moscow and the Moscow region. Dorofeyev featured prominently in Golunov’s investigation. The deed for his property now lists “The Russian Federation” as its owner.
Turnover shook the Moscow police department. Seven people were fired and one more placed on leave.
On June 13, two days after Ivan Golunov’s release, both Yury Devyatkin, who led the drug trafficking division of Moscow’s police department, and local police chief Andrey Puchkov were fired. It was Puchkov’s subordinates who arrested Golunov. On June 26, Igor Petukhov, the deputy police chief for the Western Administrative District of Moscow, submitted a letter of resignation framed as a request for early retirement. On July 3, another high-ranking drug official, Andrey Shchirov, was placed on leave during an official investigation into the Golunov case. On July 16, four more firings came to light, though the police did not name the officials involved. Three of them may have been directly involved in Golunov’s arrest. Meanwhile, the drug case that was opened during Golunov’s arrest has been transferred to Russia’s federal Investigative Committee. The journalist’s attorney, Sergey Badamshin, said, “I can’t say exactly what stage [the investigation] is at. It’s possible that it’s still at the verification stage, but it’s possible that there’s a preliminary investigation as well.”
During a march against police brutality that went on without a permit, 530 people were arrested, and two spent 10 days each in jail.
On June 12, the day after Ivan Golunov was released, a march took place in Moscow to support the journalist and speak out against police fabrication of criminal cases. Local authorities did not issue a permit for the march, leaving its participants vulnerable to arrest. Police ultimately arrested 530 protesters, dozens of whom were then fined. Two landed in jail: opposition politician Alexey Navalny and Libertarian Party member Pavel Saigin each spent 10 days behind bars. The fines issued to the arrested protesters reached sums of 200,000 rubles ($3,180) for those who had already been fined for joining unsanctioned protests before. The total amount of fines issued was more than 1.3 million rubles ($20,664). A few protesters unexpectedly escaped punishment when, in a departure from the typical function of Russian courts in such cases, judges refused to believe police testimony against individual demonstrators.
Vladimir Putin refused to decrease Russia’s sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.
Ivan Golunov’s case sparked renewed discussion in Russia about amending the country’s legislation on drug offenses. Dozens of scholars from the Russian Academy of Sciences called on the federal government to radically reform Russia’s criminal justice system and reexamine existing drug cases. Nonetheless, the Russian president refused to decrease the punishments associated with three drug-related statutes in Russia’s Criminal Codex. He argued that drug trafficking poses a significant threat in Russia, saying, “If someone illegally possesses drugs, transports them, or distributes them even in small amounts or doses, they have to be held responsible. There can’t be any liberalization here.”
Investigators and prosecutors began looking into how Russian police handle drug cases.
During Putin’s annual call-in broadcast, the Russian president proposed increasing the regulation of Russian police forces so that “people don’t get put in jail for the sake of quotas and checkmarks.” Putin ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee, the Internal Affairs Ministry, and the Federal Security Service to analyze current law enforcement practices in drug cases and increase their efforts to keep those operations within the bounds of the law. The Prosecutor General’s Office will present a report on the results of its analysis by October 1. Oleg Baranov, the chief of the Internal Affairs Ministry’s Moscow branch, promised that the capital’s police force would take independent action as well. Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Alexander Gorovoy, meanwhile, admitted that “there really is” reason to “criticize” current police practices in handling drug cases.
Meduza continued adding to a special project dedicated to resisting police brutality.
The Russian-language edition of Meduza responded to Ivan Golunov’s case by initiating a special project on police brutality and Russia’s current attempts to resist it. The project is dedicated in large part to providing resources for Russian-language readers whose rights may be violated at the hands of the police. A few of those materials can be read in Russian here:
- If a police officer asks me to turn out my pockets and show them messages on my phone, what should I do?
- We know that Russia’s law enforcement system is deeply corrupt. How did it come to be that way?
- “Him today, me tomorrow”: Readers from Russian outlets discuss what Ivan Golunov’s case means for Russian society in new survey
- Police violate your rights way more often than you think. Here’s how you can get them punished (and get money in the process).
The project also features a channel on the social app Telegram for to-the-minute updates.
Translation by Hilah Kohen