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No signs of beating found on face, body of detained Meduza journalist — monitors

Golunov told monitors he had not slept for 24 hours

MOSCOW, July 7. /TASS/. Members of the Public Monitoring Commission (PMC), Russia’s prison watchdog, found no signs of beating on the face and body of journalist Ivan Golunov, who was detained in Moscow earlier on Friday.

"PMC members found no signs of beating on the journalist’s body or face, except minor scratches on his arms and back, received during the detention," the Public Monitoring Commission’s executive secretary, Ivan Melnikov, said.

He added that the journalist also received several minor scratches in hospital. "According to Golunov, he received them when he refused to follow the legitimate demands of law enforcement officers."

"He refused to go to a police station, because he thought it would be safer for him to stay in hospital, so he gripped the bench he was sitting on and refused to let go of it. When officers pulled him, Golunov fell and got scratched," Melnikov said.

According to Melnikov, monitors recommended to carry out a probe into whether the use of force against the reporter was legitimate.

"We were assured that the internal investigations division will look into all those matters," the official said.

Meanwhile, Yeva Merkachyova, a member of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission and the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, said forensics will take hand swabs and fingernail clips from the detained journalist to determine whether he touched the packages of drugs that were found on him.

"They (police officers and the journalist himself) have given their approval," she said.

Merkachyova said she was assured that Golunov would be placed into a solitary cell under round-the-clock video surveillance.

"They also wanted to carry out some investigative procedures, but he is exhausted, and we asked not to do it today. They granted our request," she said.

"He [Golunov] said he has not slept for 24 hours and feels unwell. He hasn’t eaten, too, but says he is not hungry," Merkachyova added.

Golunov, 36, an investigative correspondent from the Riga-based Meduza online newspaper was detained in downtown Moscow on June 6. According to police, he was carrying several packages containing 4 grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug. Three packages, a parcel containing a powdery substance and scales were found in his house. A criminal case was opened against Golunov.

His lawyer Dmitry Dzhulai insisted that police had planted the drugs on his client, explaining that this could occur at the moment when the journalist was confronted by the police. Meduza’s Director General Galina Timchenko and Chief Editor Ivan Kolpakov believe that Golunov could be prosecuted over his professional activity.