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100s attend unsanctioned rally in Moscow to support journalist after drug case against him dropped

Hundreds attended a rally in Moscow to support reporter Ivan Golunov on the day after drugs charges against him were dropped and his house arrest ended. The rally wasn’t sanctioned by officials, who had approved another date.

The drug-dealing charges against Golunov, an investigative journalist with Meduza, were dropped on Tuesday due to lack of evidence. The police officers suspected of framing the journalist have been suspended pending an internal investigation.

The highly controversial case spurred a broad public outcry, with supporters saying Golunov had been targeted for his reporting about corruption. Leading media outlets and public figures demanded a swift probe into suspected police corruption.

Golunov's supporters decided to go ahead with their march on Wednesday, despite his release. Moscow officials had sanctioned the event for June 16 and urged residents not to take part in Wednesday’s rally.

Also on rt.com Drug case against Russian journalist Golunov dropped

The organizers of the unsanctioned event warned that they failed to get approval from the city and that it was up to the people themselves to decide whether they wanted to march that day. Golunov said on Tuesday after his release that he wasn’t planning to attend the rally.

Russian police said that about 200 people were detained during the rally, though local activists said the figure was higher. Among the detained was opposition activist and Kremlin critic Aleksey Navalny, as well as many journalists and other activists. 

Aleksandr Brod, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, criticized police, saying that they “exceeded their authority” by detaining journalists at the rally. Outlets such as Vedomosti, Kommersant, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, Dozhd, and the Echo of Moscow, among others, reported that their journalists were detained. Later in the day local media reported that many had been released from police stations.

Under Russian law, the time and location of protests involving more than one person requires approval by local authorities, and breaking this rule is considered a misdemeanor.

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