Ivan Golunov

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Ivan Golunov
Ivan Golunov (photo by Taya Bekbulatova) (1) cropped.jpg
Ivan Valentinovich Golunov

(1983-01-19) 19 January 1983 (age 37)
OccupationInvestigative journalist

Ivan Valentinovich Golunov (Russian: Ива́н Валенти́нович Голуно́в; born 19 January 1983, Moscow) is a Russian investigative journalist and anti-corruption reporter currently working for independent outlet Meduza.[1][2][3] He came to public attention in June 2019 when he was arrested and charged with drug-related crime by the Moscow police; he was later released after widespread public outcry, which alleged that the case was fabricated to silence Golunov's investigations into corruption.[note 1] Golunov's arrest has attracted much attention from the Russian internet and social media community and has spurred criticism of abuse of power by the police.[13][10][14]

Early life and career[edit]

Ivan Golunov was born on 19 January 1983 in Moscow.[15] He studied at Moscow International Film School No. 1318, and completed an internship at Novaya Gazeta in the late 1990s.[16] He then worked for the magazine Afisha, writing a guide to the suburbs, and then for Vedomosti between 2003 and 2005. He was then with Forbes for a time, before returning to Vedomosti in 2008.[16] In 2009 he began working as a journalist for Slon [ru], and in 2012 he joined the TV channel Dozhd.[16] He began collaborating with RBK in 2014.[16] Since 2016 he has been a special correspondent for the online media Meduza.[16][1]

While working with Meduza, Golunov wrote a number of articles concerning corruption in Russian society. Among them were "The evictors", looking at loan sharks in Moscow, and "The penthouse family", an exposé of corruption in the Moscow mayoral office and the acquisition of a fortune in real estate.[17] Other investigations included 'A roughly painted, cheap fake', about a controversial multi-billion rouble restoration of the Stone Flower Fountain, and 'Musicians remain silent and afraid', concerning the exchange of state assets and links to presidential agencies.[17] His article "A coffin, a cemetery and hundreds of billions of rubles", published in 2017, investigated crime and corruption in the Russian funeral industry. He has twice received the Redkollegia Award [ru] for his work, firstly in October 2017, alongside fellow journalists Aleksandr Borzenko, Aleksandr Gorbachyov [ru], and Daniil Turovsky [ru] for their article "The 'Christian state' does not exist. But behind it, perhaps, is the FSB"; and in August 2018 for his "A coffin, a cemetery and hundreds of billions of rubles".[18][19] He was researching a followup to this latter study at the time of his arrest in 2019, looking at connections between funeral businesses in Moscow and the city's Federal Security Service (FSB) department, and had just submitted a draft of the article on the day of his arrest.[20]

Fabricated case[edit]


Golunov appearing at the Nikulinsky District Court on 8 June 2019

On 7 June 2019 Golunov was arrested by Moscow City Police on drug-related crime charges.[21] Colleagues and friends of Golunov expressed their belief that the case was fabricated and charges were primarily motivated by Golunov's investigations into corruption.[22] Those publicly speaking in defense of Golunov included Alexey Navalny,[23] Vladimir Posner,[24] Yuri Shevchuk,[25] Zemfira,[26] Alexey Venediktov,[27] Victor Matizen,[28] Victor Shenderovich,[29] Anna Narinskaya,[29] Ksenia Sobchak,[30] Boris Grebenshchikov,[31] Dmitry Muratov,[27] Andrey Zvyagintsev,[32] Leonid Parfyonov,[33] Grigory Yavlinsky,[34] Oxxxymiron,[35] and a number of other journalists, artists, and public figures.[36] Three major Russian newspapers, Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK, published a joint editorial under the headline "I am / We are Ivan Golunov".[37]

Several dozen of Golunov's works (in Russian) about corruption among officials and businessmen in Moscow and other cities and regions were made public at the time of his arrest, and offered for reprint and distribution in order to raise public awareness of the case.[note 2][38]

In a press release about the arrest of Golunov and a search of his apartment, the police published a series of photos, eight of which showed a drug lab. These photographs were widely distributed through Telegram instant-messaging channels linked to the police. Soon the police officially confirmed that the photographs were taken in the apartment of the suspect. However, they then admitted that an error had occurred and only one photo was actually taken at Golunov's apartment.[40]

On 8 June, Golunov was sentenced to house arrest until 7 August.[41][42]


Golunov after leaving the building of the Main Investigation Department of the Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow, 11 June 2019

On 11 June 2019, the non-profit Anti-Corruption Foundation published an investigation that linked alleged masterminds behind Golunov's persecution to officials in the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), including its Moscow office chief.[43][44] On the same day, Golunov was released and cleared of all charges.[5] Almost simultaneously, Oyub Titiev, a Russian human-rights activist arrested in 2018, was released by another Russian court.[45][3]

Notwithstanding Golunov's release, a planned but unauthorized rally was held in Moscow in support of him on 12 June. Protesters called to punish those involved in the fabrication of criminal cases. Officers in riot gear attacked protesters. Hundreds of people were detained, including political activist Alexei Navalny and a member of staff from the German magazine Der Spiegel, as well as many Russian journalists.[46]

Subsequent investigation[edit]

About six months after Golunov's release, five ex-police officers were charged over fabrication of his case.[47][48][49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The response spanned a very diverse range of figures whose union was unlikely to happen.[4][3][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
  2. ^ At the time they were available for free under Creative Commons License.[38][39]


  1. ^ a b "Russian reporter charged with drug dealing". BBC News. 8 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Ivan Golunov: Russian journalist walks free after police drop criminal charges". euronews.com. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Bennetts, Marc (11 June 2019). "Ivan Golunov: Russian police drop charges against journalist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  4. ^ Bennetts, Marc (11 June 2019). "Ivan Golunov: Russian police drop charges against journalist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 June 2019. The developments came after an unprecedented display of solidarity from Russian journalists and cultural figures that piled massive pressure on the Kremlin. Three major Russian newspapers on Monday ran near-identical front pages in defence of the journalist, whose arrest was seen as a watershed moment for independent media in Russia... Golunov's arrest was condemned by figures across a wide spectrum of Russian society
  5. ^ a b "Ivan Golunov: Charges against Russian anti-corruption journalist dropped following outcry". Sky News. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  6. ^ "In historic collaboration, Russia's three major business newspapers publish front pages for Ivan Golunov". meduza.io. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Russian newspapers show rare solidarity with detained, beaten journalist". cbsnews.com. Retrieved 14 June 2019. Russia's media landscape is fragmented, and such a show of solidarity in the media is rarely seen.
  8. ^ Mackinnon, Amy. "Journalist's Release Reveals Cracks in the Putin System". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 14 June 2019. The outcry it provoked was such that it tipped the balance to outweigh the political capital of whoever ordered it, forcing a U-turn from the top, Weber said.
  9. ^ "Russian journalist Ivan Golunov released from house arrest after drug charges dropped". The Independent. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019. the Russian journalistic community is hardly known for acts of solidarity. But the journalist's plight provoked an unprecedented multi-level response that surprised almost everyone watching.
  10. ^ a b "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 June 2019. His arrest sparked widespread condemnation that spread beyond media circles and caught the Kremlin off-guard.
  11. ^ "Ivan Golunov case: Russian media mark victory over police | DW | 11 June 2019". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 14 June 2019. Even pro-Kremlin, state-run media outlets and major television stations demanded Golunov be treated fairly.
  12. ^ "Accused Russian reporter is freed after outcry". 11 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Detained Russian journalist Ivan Golunov freed". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 June 2019. Rare victory for an independent journalist in Russia follows wide public anger over case
  14. ^ "How Ivan Golunov cost Putin more than Robert Mueller | Opinion". Newsweek. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Иван Голунов. Обо мне" [Ivan Golunov on "Snob"]. snob.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Голунов Иван Валентинович" (in Russian). ruspekh.ru. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Reporter Ivan Golunov's Biggest Investigations". The Moscow Times. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  18. ^ ""Христианского государства" не существует. Но за ним, возможно, стоит ФСБ "Медуза" выяснила, откуда взялись православные радикалы и что про них думают в РПЦ". redkollegia.org. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Гроб, кладбище, сотни миллиардов рублей. Как чиновники, силовики и бандиты делят похоронный рынок – и при чем тут Тесак". redkollegia.org. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Эффект Стрейзанд. Как делалось новое "похоронное" расследование: разговор" (in Russian). Meduza. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  21. ^ "'Meduza' correspondent Ivan Golunov arrested in Moscow A statement from CEO Galina Timchenko and editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov". meduza.io. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  22. ^ Roth, Andrew (7 June 2019). "Russian police accused of arresting journalist on false charges". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  23. ^ ""Подстава и скотство": что говорят об аресте корреспондента "Медузы" Ивана Голунова" [Fraud and bestiality: what they say about the arrest of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov] (in Russian). 28 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Владимир Познер: "Арест Ивана Голунова — плевок в лицо всех журналистов России"" [Vladimir Pozner: "The arrest of Ivan Golunov is a spit in the face of all Russian journalists"]. meduza.io (in Russian). 8 June 2019.
  25. ^ Группа ДДТ, Юрий Шевчук: «Свободу Ивану Голунову!» on YouTube
  26. ^ Официальная страница Земфиры // VK
  27. ^ a b "Муратов и Венедиктов решили поручиться за журналиста Голунова" [Muratov and Venediktov decide to vouch for journalist Golunov]. Interfax (in Russian). 8 June 2019.
  28. ^ Свободу Ивану Голунову!
  29. ^ a b "На пикетах в поддержку Голунова задержали журналистов" [Journalists detained at pickets in support of Golunov]. RBK (in Russian). 7 June 2019.
  30. ^ "Собчак и Канделаки не поверили в журналиста "Медузы" – наркобарона" [Sobchak and Kandelaki did not believe in the journalist of "Medusa" – drug lord]. Daily Storm (in Russian). 7 June 2019.
  31. ^ БГ выступил в поддержку Ивана Голунова on YouTube
  32. ^ "В деле Ивана Голунова не прекращается реакция" [The reaction in the case of Ivan Golunov does not stop]. Kommersant (in Russian). 9 June 2019.
  33. ^ "Леонид Парфёнов усомнился в причастности Ивана Голунова к наркотикам" [Leonid Parfyonov doubted the involvement of Ivan Golunov in drugs] (in Russian). 7 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Свобода Ивана Голунова — наша свобода" [The freedom of Ivan Golunov is our freedom]. yavlinsky.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  35. ^ Oxxxymiron at the Instagram
  36. ^ "Константин Хабенский на открытии "Кинотавра": сегодня пытаются закрыть неудобного журналиста, завтра неудобным может стать фестиваль" [Konstantin Khabensky at the opening of the Kinotavr: today they are trying to close an uncomfortable journalist, tomorrow a festival may become uncomfortable]. Meduza (in Russian). 9 June 2019.
  37. ^ Bennetts, Marc (10 June 2019). "Russian papers join forces in solidarity with detained journalist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  38. ^ a b "We've released all of Ivan Golunov's writing for 'Meduza' under a Creative Commons license". meduza.io. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  39. ^ Trilling, Samuel. "Meduza Disseminates Golunov's Work, Lifts Copyright". occrp.org. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  40. ^ "МВД назвало ошибкой сотрудников главка фото "из квартиры Голунова"]" [The Ministry of Internal Affairs called the photos "from Golunov's apartment" a mistake of employees of the central committee]. RBK (in Russian). 7 June 2019.
  41. ^ "Журналиста "Медузы" Ивана Голунова отправили под домашний арест]" [Medusa journalist Ivan Golunov sent to house arrest]. Lenta.ru (in Russian). 8 June 2019.
  42. ^ Reuters (8 June 2019). "Russian Reporter Who Investigates Graft Is Placed on House Arrest". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  43. ^ "Навальный опубликовал материал о людях из расследования Голунова" [Navalny published material about people from the investigation of Golunov]. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  44. ^ Deutsche Welle. "Навальный рассказал о связях полковника ФСБ и мэрии Москвы" [Navalny spoke about the connections of an FSB colonel and the Moscow City Hall] (in Russian). dw.com. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  45. ^ "What Ivan Golunov's ordeal reveals about Russia". The Economist. 13 June 2019.
  46. ^ "Ivan Golunov case: Moscow protest sees hundreds held". BBC News. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  47. ^ Bennetts, Marc. "Russia caves in and charges police with planting drugs on Ivan Golunov". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  48. ^ "Former officers who searched 'Meduza' journalist Ivan Golunov arrested, may face drug possession and evidence falsification charges". meduza.io. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  49. ^ Mallene, Laura. "Russia Charges Officers Who Arrested Journalist Ivan Golunov". www.occrp.org. Retrieved 1 February 2020.

External links[edit]