Russian media in rare show of solidarity with detained journalist


A Moscow court on Saturday ordered Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov to two months of house arrest, rejecting investigators and prosecutors’ requests to keep him in pre-trial detention. Golunov, who was charged for large-scale drug selling, was reported to have sustained a concussion, a hematoma and possible broken ribs, The Moscow Times reports.

An ally of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 15 days in jail on the day he was to be released. A Moscow court on Monday found Leonid Volkov guilty of violating rules for holding a rally last year, The New York Times adds:

Navalny is the most prominent foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Volkov, who is often described as Navalny’s right hand, helped organize rallies in several Russian cities last September to protest the government’s decision to raise the pension age.

In a show of rare solidarity, Russia’s three major newspapers on Monday put out nearly identical front pages (right) to support Golunov. Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK, among the most respected daily newspapers in the country, published a joint editorial under the headline “I am/We are Ivan Golunov,” calling for a transparent probe into the case of the prominent investigative journalist, CBS/AP reports:

Golunov, who works for the independent website Meduza, was beaten and kept in custody for 12 hours without a lawyer after he was stopped by police in Moscow on Thursday. He was transferred to house arrest on Saturday following a public outpouring of support, but he still faces drug dealing charges that could send him to prison for as much as 20 years.

They called for an investigation into an arrest the journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders has warned could mark “a significant escalation in the persecution” of independent journalists in Russia, RFE/RL adds.


In the world of Russian media, acts of solidarity are rare. That’s why the decision by Vedomosti, RBC and Kommersant to print almost identical front pages is significant, BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg writes:

It feels like Ivan Golunov’s detention is a watershed moment: when Russian journalists from across the political spectrum realised the “system” had gone too far. Even prominent pro-Kremlin broadcasters have been critical of the case. Anchor Irada Zeynalova of pro-Kremlin channel NTV said: “Journalists are not angels, but neither are police… If there were no drugs on him (Golunov), those who created this crazy situation must be punished.”

Pavel Chikov, the head of the lawyers’ association Agora, which represents Golunov, published results of tests the journalist has taken to prove his innocence. He said the tests indicated it was unlikely Golunov regularly handles drugs, as police have suggested, The Guardian reports.

Late on June 7, hundreds of people lined up outside the headquarters of the Moscow city police, taking turns to stand in front of the building and hold signs, one by one, in protest of Golunov’s arrest, RFE/RL adds.

Police briefly detained 11 people, many of them prominent journalists, including the well-known satirist Viktor Shenderovich, according to OVD-Info, a nongovernmental organization that monitors Russian police.

Mainstream television in Russia, stage-managed by the Kremlin, barely mentions Pussy Riot, the anti-Putin punk band, or Aleksei A. Navalny, the country’s most prominent opposition figure. Forget about hearing much feminist talk, or humor at the expense of the government or Russia itself. Yet voices that the government would mute are heard regularly by tens of millions of Russians in another format: YouTube, The Times adds:


survey by the independent Levada Center last year found that a majority of Russians rely on television as their main news source, except for the youngest cohort, aged 18 to 24. The more educated and urban the population, it found, the more people trusted the internet for news, especially on sensitive issues like the economy and antigovernment protests.

“The entire social, political part of television is controlled by the authorities,” said Leonid G. Parfenov (below), an independent news anchor who has been shut out of state TV since 2004 for being too critical of the government. “For that reason, you cannot consider this television journalism — it is just propaganda, they are just employees of the presidential administration.”


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