Published: Fri, June 14, 2019

Navalny among hundreds arrested at protest over Golunov's 'framing'

Navalny among hundreds arrested at protest over Golunov's 'framing'

Golunov, who reported on corruption and press censorship, was arrested last week and accused of drug dealing, in what his lawyers and press freedom advocates say were fabricated charges after police planted fake evidence.

Reuters witnesses said well over 1,000 people marched through central Moscow, chanting "Russia will be free", "Russia without Putin" and "Down with the Tsar" as police warned them not to break the law and blocked access to certain streets.

Kolokoltsev, the interior minister, said some police officers involved in the case were being temporarily removed from duty pending an investigation and that he planned to ask Putin to dismiss other more senior police personnel. Some of the demonstrators were later released. Almost 25,000 people said they were interested in attending on Facebook. "We demand that hundreds of thousands of (criminal) cases where people are sitting in prison unfairly now be reviewed".

In announcing the arrest, police posted photos of drugs allegedly taken in the journalist's apartment then admitted the images came from another case. Many saw Golunov's release as a Kremlin attempt to crush the new protest wave.

But in a controversial move, Meduza's senior editors and several other top journalists urged Muscovites to call off the protest after Golunov's release, triggering a storm of criticism. A large crowd of Muscovites including a number of prominent Russians turned up regardless.

A number of journalists were detained including a producer for the German news magazine Dr Spiegel. The activist wrote to his arrest on Twitter: "It makes sense, the leaders are hell scared because of the fantastic and unanimous expression of Solidarity in the Golunow thing". "What happened to Ivan Golunov happens every day all across the country".

"We should not stand down, even if Ivan is free".

Another protester named only by Reuters as Ivan, 28, said the freeing of Golunov did not amount to a victory. "We should not lull ourselves into complacency", said local lawmaker Maksim Reznik.

Golunov's case has also sparked debates over the need to reform the law on drug possession in Russian Federation, which, critics, say, have been used to silence opposition figures and truth-seeking journalists. The few independent media that still operate in Russian Federation are under huge pressure, Kremlin critics say. It said police had started to release some of them without charge while drawing up charges against others.

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