At least 100 people gathered in central Moscow Friday evening to hold single pickets against the arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov.
Golunov, an investigative reporter for the Meduza news website, was detained Thursday afternoon on drug trafficking charges which his colleagues say were “persecution” for his reports. Russia’s independent trade union of journalists on Friday called for members to hold single pickets in support of Golunov outside police headquarters in their cities.
A line of people formed outside the Interior Ministry headquarters Friday evening as people waited to hold single pickets against Golunov's detention.
Police detained local deputy Viktor Kotov and RBC news website employee Vladimir Kheifets at the picket site. The two are still in detention. Three other people were later detained, the police-monitoring OVD-Info website reported.
Up to 15 protesters had been detained earlier while holding single pickets there, Russian media reported.
Those detained included journalists Anna Narinskaya, Alexander Gorbachev, Alexander Ryklin, Ilya Azar, Grigory Tumanov and Pavel Kanygin, the MBKh news website reported. Alexander Polivanov, former deputy head of Meduza, was also detained.
Popular Russian satirist Victor Shenderovich, who was one of the detained, told The Moscow Times it was “vital” for as many people as possible to voice their anger with Golunov’s arrest. “We all know that the charges are absurd, and we can’t let them get away with this quietly,” he added.
Video shared on social media shows Shenderovich's detention.
All of the individuals who were detained were released shortly after, the police-monitoring OVD-Info website reported.
Speaking outside the picket shortly after he was released, Shenderovich said he believes that the releases were linked to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that began on Thursday.
“They must have realized that our arrests could overshadow the forum, so they decided to quickly let us out.”