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.
“This story is not good, really,” Matviyenko told reporters on Tuesday. She was commenting on the controversial case of investigative reporter Ivan Golunov, who was charged with drug dealing and placed under house arrest over the weekend.
The police say that they found drugs inside the journalist’s backpack, which he allegedly wanted to sell, and later found some more in his apartment. If proven guilty, Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based Russia-focused news website Meduza, could face from 10 to 20 years in prison.
Golunov denies all charges, insisting that he had never handled or took drugs. His defense team believes that the illegal substances were planted by police. It was later confirmed that drug tests taken by the journalist were negative.
The case sparked outrage from the Russian media community, with many journalists voicing solidarity with Golunov and calling for his prosecution to end. They were joined by human rights campaigners, famous artists and other public figures.
The journalist’s supporters also pointed out inconsistencies in the investigation and raised concerns over how Golunov was treated by the officers during pre-trial detention. The case is also being closely watched by the Kremlin, the president’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, adding that there are “questions that need to be clarified.”