Saturday 17 August 2019

Moscow police detain 200 at protest over 'framing' of journalist

Held: opposition leader Alexei Navalny is taken away by police. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov
Held: opposition leader Alexei Navalny is taken away by police. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Anton Zverev

Russian police said they detained more than 200 people yesterday, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow calling for punishment for police officers involved in the alleged framing of a journalist.

Police abruptly dropped drug charges a day earlier against investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, a rare U-turn by the authorities in the face of anger from his supporters who said he was targeted over his reporting.

Mr Golunov (36), known for exposing corruption among Moscow city officials, was detained by police last Thursday and accused of dealing drugs, an allegation that he flatly denied.

The crude way supporters said Mr Golunov was set up and detained triggered an unusual show of media unity and an uncharacteristically swift reversal from authorities nervous about social unrest at a time when president Vladimir Putin already faces disquiet over living standards.

Witnesses said well over 1,000 people marched through central Moscow, chanting "Russia will be free", "Russia without Putin" and "Down with the Tsar" as police warned them not to break the law and blocked access to certain streets.

Many of the marchers and those detained were prominent Russian journalists and activists.

"We came to show the authorities that we have consolidated, that we are united," said one protester.

The authorities had warned protesters that their demonstration would be illegal.

Witnesses saw at least three police officers bundle opposition politician Alexei Navalny into a truck.

Irish Independent

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