Major Russian newspapers back arrested investigative journalist Golunov

“I  We are Ivan Golunov,” the front pages of the Kommersant RBC and Vedomosti newspapers declared

“I We are Ivan Golunov,” the front pages of the Kommersant RBC and Vedomosti newspapers declared Credit Yuri Kadobnov AFP

Three of Russia's leading newspapers took the unusual step on Monday of publishing identical front-page headlines to protest over what they suspect is the framing of an investigative journalist on drug charges.

In an unprecedented show of unity, Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK agreed to publish an nearly identical front page design.

The Kremlin said on Monday that the detention of a Russian investigative journalist on drug dealing charges raised many questions and that it was following the case closely. If proven guilty, Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based Russia-focused news website Meduza, could face from 10 to 20 years in prison. The dailies said they did not consider the evidence presented by investigators to be convincing.

"We demand that the law be observed by everyone and for everyone", they said.

Later, Golunov's lawyer Sergey Badamshin said that fingerprints of Ivan Golunov were not found on any of the items that were seized during the search of his apartment as part of the investigation into the drugs offence case.

In what some supporters saw as a small victory, a court on Saturday rejected a request to hold Mr. Golunov in a pretrial detention facility and ordered instead that he be held under house arrest for two months while he is investigated.

Police released pictures of a drug laboratory that Golunov allegedly ran but later admitted that only one of the photos was taken in the journalist's apartment.

As well as Russian media, Golunov has provoked outrage from global media and statements of concern from European Union and the United States.

The Meduza website is based in European Union member state Latvia to circumvent censorship from Moscow, but some of its journalists live in Russian Federation.

Journalists protested outside Moscow's police headquarters on Friday and during the weekend to demand the case be dropped.

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