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.

Just Posted

Courtenay council opts for cantilevers on bridge

Project price tag is $8.3 million

Vancouver Island MusicFest takes a vigilant approach to possible overdose situations

Dozens of MusicFest volunteers have taken naloxone training sessions offered by festival organizer

Comox Bike Company YANA Ride early bird registration deadline looming

Comox Bike Company YANA Ride early bird registration deadline is approaching fast.… Continue reading

Sailing cancellations as Baynes Sound Connector set to undergo maintenance

Travellers and residents travelling to/from Buckley Bay and Denman Island will have… Continue reading

Team effort rescues injured mountain biker in Cumberland

A team effort between Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, the Cumberland… Continue reading

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Former Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

B.C. senior’s car vandalized for more than 18 months

Retired RCMP officer determined to catch ‘tagger.’

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Man charged in crash that killed B.C. pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Most Read