Saturday, 15 June, 2019

Journalist Golunov walks free as Russian Federation suspends police officers

Ivan Golunov in a Moscow court room Ivan Golunov leaves the cage in a court room in Moscow Russia
Steven Clarke | 13 June, 2019, 18:37

That rally is scheduled for next Sunday, June 16.

Golunov is expected to be released later Tuesday. Leonid Volkov, an associate of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, received an additional 15-day sentence on Monday for organizing an unauthorized rally a year ago, after just having served a 20-day prison term for the same offense.

There seem to be several explanations as to why Golunov's case was thrown out.

"This is just the beginning, there is a lot of work ahead so that what happened never happens to anyone else", they said.

Russian Federation past year also raised the retirement age, triggering an outcry among wide segments of the population and putting a dent into Putin's popularity ratings.

At the same time, public trust in Putin's leadership has sunk to its lowest level since he took power almost 20 years ago, according to a poll last month by the state-financed agency VTsIOM.

Most Russian observers believe the Kremlin had no direct stake in Golunov's arrest, which most suspected had been brought about by mid-level officials or others involved in regional rackets that he most frequently wrote about.

His release comes a month after days of protests forced authorities to backtrack over plans to build a controversial new cathedral in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. In a separate statement later, the police said they found cocaine at his place.

"The Kremlin is anxious about rising social anxiety, falling disposable incomes, and people being unhappy".

Had Golunov dared expose war crimes of United States imperialism or any other major imperialist power, these outlets would have no doubt maintained near-complete silence about his case, as they have done with regard to the persecution of Assange and Manning, and the charges brought against a French journalist who exposed French arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the criminal war in Yemen. They later retracted the statement, saying that the pictures were taken elsewhere.

U.S. submits extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
She was recently found in contempt for refusing to cooperate with federal prosecutors pursuing charges against Mr. Espionage Act related to his alleged solicitation and publication of classified military and diplomatic material.

But the crude way supporters said Mr Golunov was set up and detained triggered an unusual show of media unity and an uncharacteristically swift response from authorities nervous about social unrest at a time when President Vladimir Putin already faces disquiet over living standards. But it later said a medical report showed no evidence of his intoxication.

More than one-third of all Russians behind bars are serving prison terms for drug trafficking, according to the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

The developments were hailed by Russian human rights activists and media professionals, who were supporting Golunov.

Rights activists have long complained of police abusing their powers and planting drugs on innocent people.

As his arrest unleashed a rare show of popular solidarity, the Kremlin said it was important to "admit mistakes" and not repeat them, but also defended its law enforcement agencies. His supporters said the charges were politically motivated.

Golunov's release was also facilitated by camaraderie among Russian journalists.

In an unprecedented gesture of solidarity, major newspapers Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK published the same front page on Monday under the headline "I am/we are Ivan Golunov" in giant letters.

"We will be talking at that conference about media freedom - or lack of it - in Russian Federation, among other countries", she said after a talk at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.

Golunov's lawyers argued that numerous legal violations accompanied the journalist's arrest. It would be a stretch to say that things have changed.

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