Arrested on June 6, 2019, on drug dealing charges, the Russian independent journalist Ivan Golunov was released five days later, all charges dropped, after an unprecedented support from public and media.
If there was ever a case in Russian history with the most professional solidarity and civil society support towards a journalist, the detention of Ivan Golunov is such a case.
His name has become synonymous with the victory of press freedom. Everyone agreed that his story will go down as an inspiring example of what media could do when injustice occurs.
Injustice always occurs all over the world, in every continent, in every country. But, then, it’s the duty of newspapers to stand against the violation of human rights and fight any attempts to silent journalists.
Russians police officers tried to silent freelance journalist Mr Golunov. The arrested him over fabricated drug charges. The journalist was reportedly beaten up during his arrest.
Following this arrest, what happened, was unpredictable. The Russian authorities has come under fire. People stood out in the street to defend Golunov. Russian journalists rallied the move, including media, whatever they are, print, radio and television.
It’s remarkable how, despite being closed to Kremlin, three of Russia’s leading business newspapers came out with the same front pages headlines that read: “I Am/We Are Ivan Golunov.”
The story was told by Golunov himself during a session on corruption in the Moscow City Hall. It was at the 11th Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJN), which took place, on September, in Hamburg, Germany.
Every one of us who attended this session listened carefully to him. And, when he ended up, the applause burst out from all sides in the room, for long minutes, without stopping. The emotion was great. Yeah, indeed, it was.
Golunov’s story is a story of hope, a story of humanity, a story of professional solidarity, a story of civil action, a story of freedom, and press freedom.
I was convicted before leaving the session that this is something newspapers in my country need to do when a journalist faces injustice. They need to act the same way Russian newspapers did when Golunov was arrested.
This is part of the responsibilities of newspapers to fight for the rights of victims of injustice, whether the victim is a journalist or not, whether he or she is famous. Solidarity in the media is very important. As I do, Togolese newspapers have to learn from Ivan Golunov’s case.