Russian media outlets urge scribe’s release

Russian authorities faced unprecedented pushback on Monday against the arrest of an investigative reporter on drugs charges, with independent as well as pro-Kremlin figures urging his release.

Journalist Ivan Golunov was detained on drug charges last week but says he is being punished for his work as an investigative reporter.

As his arrest unleashed a rare show of popular solidarity, the Kremlin said it was important to “admit mistakes” and not repeat them, but also defended its law enforcement agencies. On Monday, three top newspapers Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK published the same front page with the words “I am/we are Ivan Golunov” in giant letters — a bold act of defiance in a country where most media toes the Kremlin line. The phrase was drawn from the slogan “I am Charlie” that emerged after the 2015 killing of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo.

Mr. Golunov, 36, a reporter with Meduza, an independent Russian-language media outlet, was detained last week on allegations that he manufactured and dealt in drugs. He faces up to 20 years in prison, but defence lawyers say drugs were planted on him.

In identical front page statements, the three newspapers said the journalist’s arrest amounted to an act of intimidation, and demanded an investigation into the police officers who detained him. The dailies said they did not consider the evidence presented by investigators to be convincing.