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Russian journalist Golunov released after drug case against him dropped

Russian journalist Golunov released after drug case against him dropped

The police's case against Golunov appeared flimsy.

Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov has been released from house arrest as the criminal case against him was dropped due to a lack of evidence. He added that the journalist will be released from house arrest, which was ordered by a court on Saturday, later in the day.

'I believe that the rights of every citizen, regardless of his profession, must be protected, ' said Kolokoltsev.

Supporters mounted a nationwide campaign on his behalf, with journalists and others picketing Moscow police headquarters for five days.

All of them say they suspect Ivan Golunov has been framed.

But the evidence seemed so flimsy that even some staunchly pro-Kremlin television journalists rallied to Golunov's defence.

Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based Meduza news website, was beaten by police and kept in custody for 12 hours after being detained in central Moscow on 6 June, his lawyer, Sergei Badamshin said. More than 20,000 people signed an online pledge to march in the capital on Wednesday, a public holiday, to protest Golunov's arrest.

Valentina Matviyenko, who is Russia's third most senior official after the president and prime minister, said that the law enforcement agencies' "mistakes and violations ... have given rise to distrust in the investigation". Huge gratitude to all of them'.

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"This is a very surprising turnaround of events", said Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, reporting from Moscow.

The charges against him were so serious that, given the typical Russian practice, Golunov seemed likely to spend months in jail ahead of a trial in which prosecutors would nearly surely get their way.

Celebrities and even some high-profile journalists at state media have spoken out for Mr. Golunov, criticizing either the accusations against him or the harsh manner of his detention. According to police, Golunov was carrying four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug, while five grams of cocaine were found during a search of his rented apartment.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity on Monday, the Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBC newspapers each published front page headlines: "I am/We are Ivan Golunov", accompanied by editorials calling for inquiries into the case.

Those who spoke out against Golunov's detention included the Committee to Protect Journalists, which noted Russia's "long history of politically motivated allegations against reporters". Framing people for drug-related crimes is a common way for influential figures across Russian Federation to sideline opponents, rights activists claim.

The Russian investigative media outlet Project cited unnamed Kremlin officials on Monday as saying the presidential administration wanted police to drop charges against Golunov because they were anxious Putin would face awkward questions during the live call-in show.

"As TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neo-conservative discourse, or just try to maintain quality journalism", the RSF said in its 2019 summary for Russian Federation, describing the atmosphere for independent journalists as "stifling". "This is just the beginning, a lot of work lies ahead".