The story of Meduza special reporter Ivan Golunov received media coverage around the world. Golunov was detained in Moscow on 6 June on suspicion of drug dealing, an accusation that the Kremlin later admitted had been entirely fabricated. He was stopped on the street by several policemen, who searched his backpack and claimed to have discovered a package with an unknown substance. One more package was reported to have been found in Golunov’s apartment. Golunov denied all accusations, and insisted that the drugs had been planted.
When Golunov spoke to his lawyer the following day, the latter discovered that Golunov had been bruised and injured. According to the journalist, he was threatened, punched and kicked while being interrogated at the police station. He was denied an ambulance.
The situation drew massive attention throughout Russia, with hundreds of people, many of them members of the press, protesting in front of the prosecutor’s office in Moscow alone. Journalists from a variety of outlets, from partisan to state media, all condemned Golunov’s arrest and called for a fair investigation and trial. On 11 June, Golunov was released and all charges against him dropped in an uncommon victory for Russian civil society. The investigation is ongoing, but the tide has turned against the police officers who initiated the arrest.
On 27 May, Ivan Litomin, reporter of state-owned TV channel Rossiya 24, was physically assaulted and thrown to the ground. His attacker was Sergey Zaytsev, head of the Shirinsky district in the Khakasia region, Rossiya 24 reported.
Accompanied by a film crew of two people, Litomin set out to interview Zaytsev, investigating the discrepancy between the official’s luxurious mansion and the poor-quality houses provided by the government to those who lost their homes in wildfires in 2015. Zaytsev behaved aggressively toward Litomin and tried to take away his microphone. He then grabbed Lidomin and threw him to the ground, shouting “Go away, I’m telling you, get out of here”. Zaytsev’s aides pushed Lidomin out of the office and tried to prevent the cameramen from filming the incident.
After the video of Lidomin’s attack went viral, Evgeny Revenko, secretary of the ruling political party, United Russia — of which Zaytsev is a member — publicly apologised. United Russia also expelled Zaytsev. The state Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Zaytsev on charges of obstruction of journalistic activity.
Zaytsev called the incident “a planned provocation,” and claimed that Litomin fell by himself rather than being pushed. “They broke into my office outside of working hours and started calling me a corrupt thief, saying that I had a criminal past and asking if I was ashamed of being the head of the district. It lasted ten minutes. It was impossible to talk to the journalist. I tried to push him out of my office. He was actively protesting. How can it be an assault, when three big men broke into my office, where I was alone, and two of them were physically stronger than me?”, Zaytsev told state-operated news source RIA Novosti. Zaytsev filed a complaint with the police, attempting to prosecute Litomin for “offence of a representative of the government”.
On 20 March, three reporters for the media outlet Rosderzhava, Andrey Oryol, Alexander Dorogov and Pavel Tsibulyak, were physically assaulted while trying to investigate inside an office building, Mediazona reported. The reporters accompanied an ex-employee of PromMash Test company to the company’s offices to investigate the circumstances of her firing. They were met with hostility and physical violence. Over fifteen of the boss’s deputies started beating the reporters, following them to the street as they fled and continuing to assault them. The attackers took their cameras, phones, documents and wallets. Oryol and Dorogov ended up in the hospital.
Deputy chief editor of Rosderzhava Yan Katelevskiy told Mediazona that there had been no investigation of the incident. In fact, the journalists themselves could be prosecuted, as PromMash Test filed a lawsuit against them for hooliganism. Oryol has since left the country for rehabilitation. Katelevskiy insists that PromMash Test’s CEO Alexey Filatchev and his brother, both ex-FSB employees, took part in the beating.
Boris Ivanov, a YouTube blogger and reporter with Rosderzhava who filmed the bloodied car and patch of ground near PromMash Test’s office after the incident took place, was detained near his home in Moscow on 4 June, OVD-Info reported. According to Ivanov, the policemen did not identify themselves or explain the reason for his arrest. They twisted the journalist’s arm, took away his phone, and brought him to Tverskoe police station. After the arrival of Ivanov’ lawyer, the policemen released him without any charges.
On 20 March, Ilya (his last name was not disclosed), a part-time local correspondent for 47news, was assaulted by a security guard at Gazprom’s Sotsinvest construction site, 47news reported. The incident took place near Lesnoye village in Leningrad oblast, where the company is constructing a large logistics center. Ilya was assigned to film the premises using a drone. He was stopped by a security guard near the entrance. The guard called for reinforcements, took away Ilya’s equipment, hit him in the face, and threatened to “fucking drown” him. The police were called to the incident. They took away Ilya’s drone and recorded in their report that the attack came from “an unidentified person”. Gazprom provided no commentary. The logistics center is reported to have cost 15 billion rubles, three times the proposed budget, according to a recent expert report from Fontanka.ru. 47news vowed to publish a new investigation about Gazprom.