Drug charges against Russian journalist cancelled after global outcry

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Russian police on Tuesday abruptly dropped drugs charges against journalist Ivan Golunov, a rare U-turn by the authorities in the face of anger from his supporters who alleged he was framed for his reporting and threatened to stage a mass protest in Moscow. Golunov's freedom was announced by his employer, Meduza.

The Kremlin said on Monday that the way Mr. Golunov's case had been handled raised many questions.

Golunov is expected to be released later Tuesday.

The journalist, who works for independent Russian-language media outlet Meduza, was then released from jail and placed under house arrest.

In a statement announcing Golunov's freedom, Meduza's leader thanked what they called "an unprecedented worldwide solidarity campaign" of journalists and others who are committed to free speech.

"We do not rule out that Golunov's detention and subsequent arrest are linked to his professional activities", they said, adding that the journalist's arrest amounted to an act of intimidation.

"Yipee! The criminal case against Golunov has been dropped". And via his employer, he said the "evidence" that was allegedly gathered from his apartment - including various drugs and weight scales - had actually been planted there.

Valentina Matviyenko, who presides over the upper house of the Russian parliament, said that the nation's chief prosecutor had assured her that he will "personally" oversee the investigation into arrested journalist Ivan Golunov. Those officers have now been suspended from their official duties, Kolokoltsev said.

The news about Golunov's detention spread on Friday morning. "Am I sleeping? Did this really happen?"

Concerning disciplinary action, Kolokoltsev announced, "I have chose to request the Russian president dismiss the police chief for western Moscow, Major-General Andrei Puchkov, and the head of the Moscow police department for narcotics control, Major-General Yury Devyatkin".

Journalists and supporters of Ivan Golunov.

Despite the victory, Meduza says the work to prevent anyone else being treated in a similar way has only just begun. Another rally, planned for June 16, has been approved by the authorities.

The three newspapers said they welcomed the more lenient pre-trial conditions but said they did not consider the evidence presented by investigators to be convincing. He has reported on landfills, loan sharks and bureaucracies.

"We expect law enforcement agencies to scrupulously observe the law and demand maximum openness when it comes to the investigation", the statement said.

Golunov denies all charges, insisting that he had never handled or took drugs.

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