Monitoring Group: Nearly 400 Arrested in Moscow Journalist Protest

Lester Mason
June 14, 2019

Monitors in Moscow say more than 400 people have been detained in a crackdown on an unsanctioned march in response to the brief arrest of prominent reporter Ivan Golunov.

The march presented the Kremlin with a quandary: either use force to break up the protest, and risk provoking more anger, or stand aside and let the demonstration take place, which risked revealing weakness to the Kremlin's opponents.

The three leading daily newspapers - Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBK - all carried the same headline on Monday in a rare show of solidarity: "I am/We are Ivan Golunov". During his arrest and house arrest, journalists held single pickets and demanded his release, believing the charges of drug dealing brought against him were false.

The mass arrests at the unauthorized rally provided a harsh coda to the elation of journalists and other supporters of Ivan Golunov a day after Russia's interior minister announced the unprecedented move to drop the charges and seek punishment for the police officers involved.

According to those on the scene, the arrests did not appear targeted as police detained random protesters, a journalist covering the march, and often-arrested Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Almost 25,000 people said they were interested in attending on Facebook.

Golunov said he wouldn't participate in the protest but planned to continue investigating government corruption for Meduza news.

A detained protester looks out of a police bus window in Moscow.

German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that one of its producers was also arrested, despite carrying appropriate permits.

"The authorities are very much scared of the fantastic and unanimous display of solidarity in the Golunov case", Navalny tweeted.

Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, said on Twitter that Navalny was accused of breaking Russia's protest laws, something he has been repeatedly found guilty of, and faced up to 30 days in jail.

On the same day, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova voiced her concern with Golunov's case saying that it has highlighted a number of important issues about existing detention procedures. "A lot of drug cases happen like this", said 15-year-old Yegor, who wore an "I am Golunov" T- shirt. "We were lucky that Ivan was freed but it was a small victory - we haven't won the war". The group said police began releasing some of the detainees while drawing up charges against others. During his two decades in power, Putin has silenced most of his critics.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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