NEW YORK—In response to news that Ivan Golunov, a journalist with the online news portal Meduza who is known for his investigations into political corruption, has been detained and beaten by Russian police and accused of attempting to sell illegal drugs, PEN America released the following statement:

“These questionable accusations reflect the Russian government’s long-standing practice of harassing its critics via both legalistic and clearly extra-legal means, which appear to have widened as regional elections are coming in September. Ivan Golunov has become a direct target as he recently revealed reports of official corruption within microfinance institutions and information on nepotism in the awarding of Moscow city contracts. We condemn the Kremlin’s crude attempt to intimidate and silence Mr. Golunov through these baseless charges and uncalled for violence. We call on the government to immediately release this unjustly detained journalist and to drop the false accusations against him.”

A country where most media outlets are under overt government control or indirect influence, Russian officials continue to harass any independent media, undermining the already limited freedom of expression in the country. Meduza, the independent new site Gulunov works for, is based in Latvia as it is impossible for it to operate from Russia. You can learn more about PEN America’s advocacy on Russia here.

CONTACT: Suzanne Trimel, PEN America media consultant, strimel@pen.org