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

North Island Bantam Eagles rebound from first loss with two big wins at home

The Eagles took down the top ranked Tier 1 Comox Valley Chiefs 5-3 on Sunday at the Chilton Arena.

LETTER: Woss helps out in time of need

“I just wanted to acknowledge the wonderful people we met in Woss”

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

VIDEO: North Island man trapped under ATV for days shows promise at Victoria hospital

Out of induced coma, 41-year-old is smiling, squeezing hands and enjoying sunshine

Crime on the rise? Here’s Port Hardy RCMP’s third quarter report for 2019

The Port Hardy RCMP has so far opened 3,349 files in 2019, with only the fourth quarter left.

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

VIDEO: North Island Atom Eagles run over Campbell River B Tyees

The Eagles won their first league play game of the season 7-0 against the Tyees.

VIDEO: North Island Peewee Eagles keep winning streak alive, outwork Victoria Admirals

The Eagles have now won five straight league play games to start the regular season.

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

Most Read