The news that drugs charges against Russian journalist Golunov have been dropped is welcome.
Readers will recall that Golunov was arrested last week on drug-dealing charges by police in Moscow. He faced a long prison term. Golunov works as an investigative journalist on a Latvian based online news site. It was widely believed by many on the ‘left’ – meaning amongst those who are willing to criticize the authorities – that Golunov was being set up. The likely instigators of this setup were thought to be a network of corrupt businessmen and policemen and that the setup was connected with his work exposing corruption.
This was a defining moment for Russia. The arrest smelt bad. The key question was whether the highest levels of the government would stand aside and let this happen or not.
From the start it was clear that the Kremlin was doubtful about the charges. The Press Secretary of the President cautioned against people generalising from this case – which appeared to open the door to allow this possible offence – of framing an innocent journalist – to be investigated. The Minister of the Interior appears to have taken control of the case; a case file concerning the dubious police case has been sent to Russia’s highest investigating authority. The Minister has called for a senior Moscow Police Officer to be sacked.
So – it seems that very early on the Kremlin took a conscious decision. If this is a case of an innocent journalist being framed because he was investigating corruption they were not going to permit it. That the Kremlin appears to have taken this decision is wonderful and decisive news for Russia. It shows that the Kremlin is confident and does not depend on providing succor to corrupt officials for its own survival.
Now read the dishonest Guardian report about this. The key point here is the way that – without a shred of evidence or even any attempt to fake it – the story is framed as if the Kremlin was somehow behind this affair and then under public pressure had to “admit that mistakes had been made”. Thus the actual positive news here is buried beneath the stereotypical and propagandised narrative of the evil Kremlin. The piece is attributed to one of the Guardian’s propaganda writers in Moscow – Marc Bennetts.