Freed Russian reporter vows to 'help others' after ordeal

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian journalist Ivan Golunov, who was jailed on trumped-up drugs charges but released after a public outcry, said Friday he would work to help others in similar situations.

"I will do whatever is in my power," the 36-year-old journalist said in an interview with prominent TV personality, Ksenia Sobchak.

"I need to understand how I can be of use," he said, expressing hope that Russian authorities will listen to critics.

"I very much hope that there will be dialogue," he said in the two-hour Youtube interview.

Golunov, an investigative reporter for Meduza, a Russian-language website based in EU member Latvia, was arrested last week after police planted drugs on him, in what was seen as punishment for his work.

Moscow police had charged him with attempted drug dealing and he had faced up to 20 years in prison.

The reporter was released on Tuesday, and charges against him dropped, after Golunov's supporters, including many influential journalists, mounted a public campaign in his defence.

Kremlin critics say drug charges are routinely used in Russia to silence rights workers and activists or to settle scores with opponents in disputes.

Russians imprisoned for drugs offences make up around one third of all inmates in the country.

On Wednesday up to 3,000 people took part in an unsanctioned march to urge broad reform of police and courts.

The protest was brutally crushed and more than 500 people detained, according to OVD Info, a rights group that tracks detentions.

"I think that this rally did not put the matter to rest and dialogue will continue," said Golunov.

A dozen journalists from five media outlets are currently helping Golunov complete his latest investigation that will implicate senior members of Russia's FSB security service in corruption, he said.

Widely described as self-effacing, Golunov said people had begun recognising him in the streets and added that being a symbol of potential change was "a great responsibility."

Golunov also said that while he was in detention police officers complained to him about widespread corruption in the law enforcement system.

"Everyone has been bought off, everything has been pilfered," he said they told him.