Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland addresses delegates at the International Economic Forum of the Americas Conference of Montreal Monday, June 10, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canada ‘closely following’ reports of attacks on journalists in Russia: Freeland

Prominent investigative reporter Ivan Golunov was beaten and kept in custody for 12 hours without a lawyer

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she will speak out about the lack of media freedom in Russia during a conference that Canada is co-hosting next month with Great Britain.

Her comments Monday came the same day as Russia’s three major newspapers — in a rare show of solidarity — put out nearly identical front pages to support a detained journalist.

Prominent investigative reporter Ivan Golunov was beaten and kept in custody for 12 hours without a lawyer after he was stopped by police in Moscow last Thursday, according to his lawyer. He faces drug dealing charges he alleges are fabricated by the police.

Freeland, a journalist before she entered politics, told reporters, “We are following the current situation in Russia very closely and with great interest and attention.”

She and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are hosting an international conference on media freedom in London in mid-July. Freeland said the event will bring up “specific cases” around the world where the lives of journalists are at risk but wouldn’t go into details.

“We will be talking at that conference about media freedom — or lack of it — in Russia, among other countries,” she said, following a talk at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.

“This will be the first of what becomes an annual event,” Freeland continued, adding Canada has committed to hosting the second conference next year.

Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK, among the most respected daily newspapers in Russia, published a joint editorial Monday under the headline, “I am/We are Ivan Golunov,” calling for a transparent probe into the case.

The papers dismissed evidence presented against the journalist. Russia’s media landscape is fragmented, and such a show of solidarity in the media is rarely seen. All three papers have faced pressure from authorities and covert censorship.

The circumstances of the journalist’s arrest have alarmed the media community. In an apparent attempt to portray Golunov as a professional drug dealer, police on Friday released several photos, reportedly from Golunov’s home, of what appeared to be a drugs lab before they retracted the statement, saying that the pictures were taken elsewhere.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 58 reporters have been killed in Russia between 1992 and 2019. One of the more famous cases involved Anna Politkovskaya, renowned for her critical coverage of the Russian military’s invasion and occupation of Chechnya. She was shot dead in her apartment building in 2006.

Also on Monday, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights along with a coalition of other international groups produced a report claiming the number of political prisoners in Russia increased from 50 to almost 300 in the last four years.

Former Canadian justice minister and Raoul Wallenberg Centre chairman, Irwin Cotler, said in a statement the report “exposes and unmasks” the Russian government’s “culture of corruption and criminality.”

Cotler said the report identifies “the individual architects of this repression” and called on the Canadian government to impose targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on them.

Those identified include President Vladimir Putin, Alexander Bortnikov, director of the federal security service, and Aleksandr Konovalov, minister of justice.

Freeland spoke of her “tremendous respect” for Cotler and said she would study the report “with great interest.”

She said Canada has already imposed sanctions on an “extensive list” of Russian officials “and we are constantly reviewing … our sanctions and will continue to do that.”

ALSO READ: Russia requires Tinder to provide data on its users

ALSO READ: Russia accused of ‘backsliding’ on doping reforms in track

— With files from The Associated Press

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: How dozens of volunteers helped a Langley stroke survivor come home

Kevin Bay’s house needed remodelling for his wheelchair.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT: Readers invited to share wildlife photographs

Aim, snap, shoot, and share your pictures of wildlife in Langley to win!

Fort Langley Artists Group showcases art virtually to help hospice

Fifty per cent of painting proceeds will be donated to Langley Hospice Society

Family and friends mark birthday of teen who died after being discovered in Langley park

Carson Crimeni suffered an apparent drug overdose, his final moments broadcast on social media

VIDEO: Langley Ukulele Ensemble opens doors for socially distanced kids camp in August

Instructor Peter Luongo said precautions are being taken for the annual uke week, Aug. 24 to 28

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

Fraser Valley Bandits, CEBL bringing pro sports back later this month

Abbotsford-based basketball team kicks off CEBL Summer Series on July 26

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Most Read