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

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Canfor applies for federal workshare program

Employees eligible for benefits on days not working

Skaters preparing for new season

Also had a busy summer of training

Council members off to annual local government convention

Have a long list of local issues to pursue

Airport improvements could spur increased use

Also regarded as base for search and rescue operations

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Most Read