Russian anti-corruption journalist detained in Moscow

Russian journalist Ivan Golunov is seen in Moscow, Russia, on this October 27, 2018 photo. (Reuters)
Updated 08 June 2019

Russian anti-corruption journalist detained in Moscow

  • Dozens of Russian journalists protested against Golunov’s detention outside Moscow police headquarters on Friday. Police detained at least 10 of them before later letting them go

MOSCOW: A Russian journalist known for investigating corruption among Moscow city officials has been detained by police and accused of drug offenses, police said on Friday, but his lawyer, his employer and colleagues said he had been framed.
The journalist, 36-year-old Ivan Golunov, was detained in central Moscow on Thursday on his way to a meeting with a source when illegal drugs were found in his rucksack, according to police and his employer, the online news portal Meduza.
In a statement, Moscow police said a search of Golunov’s apartment had produced more drugs and some scales, and that they had opened a criminal investigation. If found guilty of large-scale drug selling, he could be jailed for 10 to 20 years.
Dmitry Djulai, Golunov’s lawyer, told Reuters he believed police had planted the drugs on his client to frame him. He said Golunov had been beaten, and that police had refused to take swabs from his hands or the rucksack or to take fingernail samples to see if he had been in contact with drugs.
Djulai said the police had also refused to call medics to catalogue the injuries that police had inflicted. Moscow police said the allegations that Golunov had been beaten as he was arrested “do not correspond to reality.”
Golunov is well known in Russia for his investigations into graft in the capital. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Sobyanin on Friday ordered the head of Moscow’s police force to take the investigation under his personal control and to ensure the matter was dealt with objectively, Russian news agencies reported.
The editorial management of Meduza, which is based in Latvia, said in a statement that Golunov had received threats in recent months in connection with a story he was working on.
“We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent,” the statement read. “Moreover, we have grounds to believe that Golunov is being persecuted because of his journalistic activity.”
Dozens of Russian journalists protested against Golunov’s detention outside Moscow police headquarters on Friday. Police detained at least 10 of them before later letting them go.
A Reuters witness said a long line of journalists was nonetheless waiting to take turns to stage one-person protests, the only form of legal protest in Russia which does not require prior permission from the authorities.


Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

Updated 05 June 2020

Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

  • Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations
  • Social media giant said even US government-run outlets have editorial independence

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook will start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organizations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target US users, it said on Thursday.
The world’s biggest social network will apply the label to Russia’s Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV and China’s Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.
Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations, as it determined that even US government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.
Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, has since stepped up its defenses and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.
The company announced plans last year to create a state media label, but is introducing it amid criticism over its hands-off treatment of misleading and racially charged posts by US President Donald Trump.
The new measure comes just months ahead of the November US presidential election.
Under the move, Facebook will not use the label for media outlets affiliated with individual political figures or parties, which Gleicher said could push “boundaries that are very, very slippery.”
“What we want to do here is start with the most critical case,” he said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday that social media companies should not selectively create obstacles for media agencies.
“We hope that the relevant social media platform can put aside the ideological bias and hold an open and accepting attitude toward each country’s media role,” he said.
Facebook is not the first company to take such action.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, in 2018 started identifying video channels that predominantly carry news items and are funded by governments. But critics charge YouTube has failed to label some state news outlets, allowing them to earn ad revenue from videos with misinformation and propaganda.
In a blog post, Facebook said its label would appear on pages globally, as well as on News Feed posts within the United States.
Facebook also said it would ban US-targeted ads from state-controlled entities “out of an abundance of caution” ahead of the November presidential election. Elsewhere, the ads will receive a label.