Three Russian newspapers have published identical front pages in a show of solidarity with investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, who was accused of drug trafficking, in a case that has provoked a wave of indignation in Russia.
“I am, we are Ivan Golunov,” reads the headline published on Monday jointly by Russian newspapers Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBC in support of Golunov, who was arrested on Thursday when police said they discovered ‘a significant quantity’ of cocaine and mephodrone at his house.
Golunov denies the charges, saying the drugs were planted by the police in an effort to shut down his investigations into corruption.
Meduza, the online media outlet for which he works, reported that Golunov was beaten during detention and that he did not receive medical attention. It also revealed that in recent weeks he had received threats as a result of an ongoing journalistic investigation.
Golunov specialises in corruption issues in Moscow. One of his recent reports exposed how relatives of a former mayor had won tens of millions of dollars in municipal contracts that later went to the purchase of real estate in the Russian capital, according to The New York Times.
The journalist’s arrest has lead to an unprecedented outcry from the press and Russian civil society, who point to the many irregularities in the police’s case against him.
In their joint front-page statement the three dailies said: “We do not consider convincing the evidence presented by investigators into the guilt of Ivan Golunov. We are not ruling out that the detention and the subsequent arrest of Mr Golunov are connected to his professional activities.”
The reporter’s arrest prompted a series of protests across several Russian cities. More than 66,000 people signed a petition to demand his release on the Change.org website. In addition, nearly 6,000 journalists signed an open letter demanding his release.