STRUGGLE OF RUSSIAN JOURNALIST

FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

Saturday, investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was charged with possession and sale of drugs. He denies the facts.

After being arrested on Friday, June 7 for drug possession, a Russian investigative journalist was charged with trying to smuggle a "significant amount of drugs," his lawyer said.

Reporter for the independent media online Meduza, Ivan Golounov, 36, has written articles on scams carried out by microcredit companies, the Moscow waste crisis, the mafia sharing of the business of cemeteries and other cases of corruption and embezzlement. "Ivan Golounov's professional reputation is flawless. He is a meticulous, honest and impartial journalist, "his management in Meduza, a media outlet based in Riga, Latvia, said to escape the control of the Russian authorities.

"Ivan Golunov has been charged with attempted drug trafficking," said lawyer Pavel Tchikov on Telegram messaging. There he published a police document accusing independent media reporter Meduza of trying to sell "a significant amount" of cocaine and mephedrone.

Hospitalized

Russian police said on Saturday that the Russian investigative journalist charged with drug smuggling Ivan Golunov had been admitted to a Moscow hospital after "feeling bad" during his detention.

The reporter, who works for the independent news website Meduza and whose supporters say he is the victim of a "trumped-up" case by the authorities, "complained of feeling bad", the Moscow police said in a statement

Police say they arrested the 36-year-old journalist in Moscow on Thursday, who had nearly four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic drug, found in his backpack, and then discovered other drug-containing packets during a week. search at his home.

According to his lawyer, the police refused to carry out tests on his hands to check whether he was in contact with the offending substance. More troubling: the investigators quickly broadcast photos after the search of his apartment. The images show an alignment of plastic bags filled with powder. But Golounov's friends assure that the photos, except for one, were not taken at his home.

Ivan Golunov is suspected of "drug trafficking" and faces up to 15 years in prison. He rejects the charges against him and claims that these drug packets do not belong to him. "We have reason to believe that Golunov is persecuted for his journalistic work," media officials headquartered in Latvia, Riga, said in an attempt to escape Russian control.

"We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent," Meduza's management said in a statement, adding that the journalist had "received threats in recent months" because of an investigation he was working on. This is also the certainty of his colleagues working for independent media in Russia, who cite recurring threats.

"Placed without his knowledge"

"There are many indications that the drugs have been placed without his knowledge," said Djoulai, citing numerous violations in the police work in this case.

On Friday, dozens of journalists demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Moscow Ministry of Interior and some of them were briefly arrested.

The Russian presidential council for human rights, which advises Vladimir Putin, issued a statement Friday evening after one of its members, Eva Merkatcheva, visited Ivan Golunov in detention. "He said he had not slept for 24 hours and he was feeling bad. He did not eat either, "said Merkacheva, adding that he claimed to have received two punches and that police officers had stood on his chest.

Reporters Without Borders warned that the case, if found to be fabricated, could mark "a significant escalation in the persecution" of independent journalists in Russia.

Russia ranks 149th in RSF's press freedom rankings in 2019 out of a total of 180 countries.

Britney Delsey for DayNewsWorld