MOSCOW, June 12. /TASS/. More than 200 people have been hauled off by police at an unauthorized rally in downtown Moscow in support of Ivan Golunov, a reporter of the Meduza media outlet, the Interior Ministry’s Main Department in Moscow told TASS.
"Some 1,200 people took part in the unauthorized public event. More than 200 people have been detained for committing an administrative offense under Article 20.2 of the Russian Criminal Code," a police spokesman said.
The detained persons will be taken to police departments for further investigation. Earlier reports said blogger Alexei Navalny was among those detained.
The city authorities had earlier authorized a rally on Sakharov Avenue on June 16, explaining that on Wednesday Moscow holds cultural events devoted to celebrating Russia Day.
The march had been scheduled before Golunov’s release and the statement by Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev that the journalist was not guilty. Golunov said he would not attend the unauthorized event and it’s better to do things that really matter.
Golunov, a reporter of the Meduza media outlet, walked free on Tuesday after police had dropped criminal charges against him amid claims that he was framed. The journalist was taken into custody on June 6. According to the Interior Ministry’s main Moscow office, Golunov was carrying four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug, while five grams of cocaine were found during a search of his rented apartment. Subsequently, he was charged with drug dealing, whereupon Moscow’s Nikulinsky District Court placed the journalist under house arrest. Golunov denied all the accusations from the beginning, and his defense attorney believed that the prohibited substances had been planted.
On Tuesday, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev announced that criminal charges against Golunov had been dropped over the failure to prove his involvement in the crime. The officers, who had detained Golunov, were suspended. The journalist’s detention has sparked a public outcry and his colleagues have been holding pickets outside the Interior Ministry’s building in Moscow demanding his release.