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Russian journalist’s questionable arrest evokes federal-level concern

Journalist Ivan Golunov

Moscow – The case against journalist Ivan Golunov will be overseen by Yury Chaika, Russia’s top prosecutor, the speaker of the country’s upper house of parliament said on Tuesday.
“This story is truly not good,’’ speaker Valentina Matviyenko, said at a parliament session, describing the journalist’s arrest on a drug charge that his supporters claim was fabricated.

Chaika has given an “absolute guarantee that this case will be under strict control of the prosecutor general’s office and under his personal control,’’ Matviyenko said in comments carried by state media.

The packages with drugs that Golunov supposedly assembled for sale contained the DNA of several people, a police spokesperson told state news agency TASS, without specifying whether Golunov’s DNA was included.
Golunov, was arrested and is best known for writing hard-hitting investigative pieces about the Moscow city government for the widely read independent news site Meduza.

Authorities alleged that Golunov, 36, was found in possession of the synthetic stimulant mephedrone, commonly known as bath salts.
He faces a charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
In a report on the case, Meduza alleged that the journalist had been framed and beaten by police.

“Golunov was examined by an ambulance team that determined he had a concussion, a hematoma and potentially broken ribs,’’ it said.
A test of the suspect did not reveal any trace of an illegal drug, state media reported, citing a senior official from Russia’s Health Ministry.