Journalists rally in support of Ivan Golunov in Rīga

Ivan Golunov, one the most prized investigative reporters on the Latvian-based internet media “Meduza”, was arrested on June 7 in Moscow for drug possession with intent to sell. The media community believes this is simply a way for the Russian authorities to silence a journalist who has been probing into Russia's criminal activities.

In order to express support for their colleague and demand his release, the Latvian Journalists' Association (LŽA) mounted a picket outside the Russian embassy in Rīga June 11 that attracted several dozen participants.

“Solidarity between journalists is by far the most important thing, and perhaps the most dangerous weapon that journalists have,” said Arta Ģiga, a board member of the Latvian Journalists' Association.

“What has happened to this journalist can, in principle, happen to any of us, since freedom in the media, however depressing this may sound, is rapidly diminishing. We are seeing this in Latvia, where different laws are being used for the benefit of select institutions rather for the benefit of the society at large, and the number of possibilities journalists have for fighting this are constantly on the wane,” said Ģiga.

Golunov was detained as he went to meet his source in Moscow. Golunov insists that two packets containing an unknown substance were planted after the arrest, the journalist was prevented from meeting with his lawyer, and he also claims to have been beaten. The doctors who examined Golunov in custody have established that the journalist had concussion, bruising, and possible broken ribs.

The Moscow court has placed the journalist under house arrest until August 7, meanwhile the case has sparked an international outcry. More information is available at the website of Meduza, the independent Russian news site which is based in Rīga.

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