Russian police detain more than 400 at protest over journalist case

MOSCOW: Russian police detained more than 400 people, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow on Wednesday 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.
Golunov, 36, known for exposing corruption among Moscow city officials, was detained by police last Thursday and accused of dealing drugs, an allegation he denied.
The crude way supporters said 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.
The authorities had hoped freeing Golunov and promising punishment for those who allegedly framed him would appease his supporters, but they decided to go ahead with a protest on Wednesday, a public holiday in Russia, regardless.
Reuters witnesses said well over 1,000 people marched through central Moscow as police warned them not to break the law and blocked access to certain streets.
Some of the protesters wore white T-shirts saying “I am/We are Ivan Golunov,” the same slogan as a front page headline carried by Russia’s three leading daily newspapers on Monday.
Police said earlier they had detained over 200 people. — Reuters