Ivan Golunov is a relatively big-name Russian journalist who was arrested last week, on June 6, 2019, for allegedly being in possession of mephedrone, a stimulant often sold on the black market as MDMA. The police who pulled the journalist over claim that the drug was found on both Golunov’s person, particularly in his backpack, and back at his Moscow-based apartment.
Golunov has maintained since the moment of his arrest on June 6 that the drugs were not his. Rather, he purports that the Russian law enforcement officials who arrested him simply planted the mephedrone on him and in his apartment as a way to jail him.
He, along with the general public, believes that Russian officials wanted to incarcerate Golunov as a means of punishing him for his journalism. Golunov has built quite a positive reputation for himself over the past decade or so, having regularly reported on fraud and other illegal or murky activities in the fields of finance, real estate, and governance in the greater Moscow area.
The journalist claims that, at the time of his arrest, he was on the way to meet up with a source for one of the stories he was working on at the time. News outlets in Moscow learned of his incarceration on June 7, the day after the arrest took place. Golunov alleges that the law enforcement officials who handled him following his jailing kept him from contacting anyone for some 14 hours, during which they physically injured the journalist and turned down Golunov’s repeated offers to have his hands and fingers for the presence of any drugs – not just mephedrone – as well as screen his blood or urine for the presence of drugs or their metabolites.
Earlier today, on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, Ivan Golunov’s charges, which included having the intent to distribute large amounts of drugs, specifically mephedrone, were dropped by Russian law enforcement officials.
At the time the charges were dropped, a Facebook page organizing a public protest in support of Golunov’s innocence had already amassed some 24,000 interested persons. The protest is scheduled to take place tomorrow, on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, which happens to fall on the patriotic holiday of Russia Day – talk about ironic.
The protest is currently slated to be held in Moscow tomorrow and will be led by some of Russia’s best journalists. Its purpose is to support press freedom, something that isn’t widely available in Russia.