Moscow police detain protesters during rally in support of Russian journalist Golunov | AFP
Hundreds of people took part in the rally in support of Ivan Golunov
The investigative journalist himself, who spent several days under arrest, did not attend the demonstration.
Several hundred people gathered in Moscow on Sunday for a small sanctioned rally to support investigative journalist Ivan Golunov and condemn the abuse of power in connection with his recent arrest on drug-related charges.
The 36-year-old journalist, known for his publications on corruption among Moscow officials, was released after a violent reaction from his supporters, who said that Golunov was framed by corrupt police.
Since the 1990s, the work of Russian journalists who criticize the authorities has been associated with risks: they face threats and attacks, and in some cases they are killed because of their professional activities. However, the Golunov case caused an unusually harsh reaction..
An unauthorized rally that took place on June 12, a day after his release, led to the detention of more than 500 people, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Sunday’s event was allowed, raising questions about possible attempts by the government of President Vladimir Putin to open a “valve” for public outrage..
According to a Reuters eyewitness, several hundred people attended the “Law and Justice for All” rally organized by the Union of Journalists of Russia. State news agency TASS with reference to the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported about 1600 participants.
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Rally on Sakharov Avenue in Moscow
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A 28-year-old programmer named Sergei said that he came to the rally in the hope that the protest would stop the practice of planting drugs, which, in his opinion, happened to Golunov.
Someone must protest, he said, noting the small number of protesters..
Other demonstrators tried to draw attention to the detentions of journalists in the regions.
“Moscow, Golunov is free. What about the others? ” – read one of the banners.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired two Interior Ministry generals in connection with the Golunov case. Other police officers involved in his arrest suspended from work pending investigation.
Golunov was invited to the rally on Sunday, but did not attend..