Hundreds arrested in Moscow protest against police impunity and corruption

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Moscow police have arrested more than 400 people during a Moscow march against fabricated criminal cases and in support of Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov, OVD-Info reported.

Despite his release, witnesses said more than 1,000 people marched through central Moscow Wednesday, calling for police involved in the Golunov incident to be punished and chanting "Russia will be free".

Hundreds have been detained in Moscow during a protest inspired by baseless drug charges brought against a journalist who investigated high-level corruption. The protest was scheduled before Golunov's drug charges were dropped and he was set free, but organizers made a decision to have it anyway, changing the focus to the police officers. Golunov and his publication, Meduza, claim that his arrest was in retaliation for his investigative reporting on corruption.

According to those on the scene, the arrests did not appear targeted as police detained random protesters, a journalist covering the march, and often-arrested Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

A monitoring group said more than 400 people were detained, although Russian authorities put the number at closer to 200.

Police officers detain a protester during a march in Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2019. Golunov, who earned a reputation for exposing corrupt Moscow city officials, denied the allegations.

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An older woman said: "Apart from what we achieved with Ivan a lot of other people are wrongly behind bars".

Three of Russia's most respected newspapers published near-identical front pages Monday reading "I/we am/are Ivan Golunov". Almost 25,000 people said they were interested in attending on Facebook.

The march had been scheduled before Golunov's release and the statement by Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev that the journalist was not guilty.

"I'm loving the view", Navalny wrote in an Instagram post that included a photo of demonstrators taken from the barred window of a van where he was being held by police. Many protesters said the journalist's case had struck a nerve because almost everyone could find himself in his place.

During his two decades in power, Putin has silenced most of his critics and sought to muzzle the media. The group said police began releasing some of the detainees while drawing up charges against others.

The authorities had warned them in advance that the demonstration would be illegal and could pose a risk to public safety.

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