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  2. "Investigating Putin's palace is not everyone’s job." Reporter Ivan Golunov’s lecture at the barcamp in Karelia

"Investigating Putin's palace is not everyone’s job." Reporter Ivan Golunov’s lecture at the barcamp in Karelia

Alexander Gnetnev
Ivan Golunov with Agriculture_club’s head Natalya Ermolina
Photo by Georgy Chentemirov

Ivan Golunov, the Meduza* Media Outlet's investigative journalist, gave a lecture in the Agriculture_club Art Space on June 26. At the Karelian barcamp, the reporter spoke about the importance of local regional issues in journalism, the role of Golunov’s case in society, and about his admirers from state-funded channels. The lecture's topic was "I am / We are Ivan Golunov. Journalism is not a crime".


About the I am / We are Ivan Golunov Support Campaign

The whole I am / We are Campaign is not really a campaign in support of Ivan Golunov. This is a campaign against police brutality. People protested for themselves. They realized that the same could happen to them, too. If we are having it now, then everyone will think they can do that. And that is why, in order not to let them consider it possible, not to end with “we made some noise and that was it”, my task, to which I have dedicated two years and probably will have to dedicate some more time, is to ensure that everyone who let this happen [the arrest] is punished for their crime. I consider this very important. Everyone told me that this was impossible, no one would be prosecuted and so on. It has to be achieved. I was taught that every crime had to be inevitably punished. Thus, my task was to make this punishment happen.

About the intention to get to the bottom of Golunov’s case

They used to tell me that there would be no criminal case. Then they told me that there would be some suspended sentences, then immediate releases and amnesties. Now, they are telling me that the actual doers are in jail, but no one is going to deal with the instigator. No way. I still believe that justice must be served. And I must act in a certain way in order to make it happen. And I will, whatever it takes.

It does not seem right to me that investigating Putin's palace is everyone’s job and any journalist from Kaliningrad to Chukotka should be involved. There are many other local issues, directly concerning our life.

About the importance of "small" topics

It does not seem right to me that investigating Putin's palace is everyone’s job and any journalist from Kaliningrad to Chukotka should be involved. There are many other local issues, directly concerning our life. And Karelian journalists should be interested in how the full repair fund, to which we pay an average of, for example, 600 rubles a month, works in our country. There are many other local issues. When we keep focusing on "aqua disco" without paying attention to everything else that happens in the world, everyone starts getting away with more and more things. That is why I think that there is no need to focus on one topic. For example, there is this meme, "The Americans are to blame for everything". The Americans are to blame for schoolchildren in Kondopoga going to wooden lavatories. No, let's pay attention to some problems concerning our life, some local problems.

About the need to consolidate society

[I am / We are Ivan Golunov] was a breath-taking campaign indeed. And, of course, I would like society to consolidate this way on other topics and problems related to ordinary everyday situations, to the arbitrariness of authorities, the police, and the inaction of authorities. It was a breath-taking story. And I want it to happen again and again. And not only in situations related to the restoration of people's rights.

About the qualities of an investigative journalist

It seems to me that one does not have to be a journalist in order to investigate. You face problems and try to find answers to them on the public procurement website; you can learn how to use it. I used to think that the Moscow City Court’s website was absolutely incomprehensible: nothing could be understood there. Now, the Moscow City Court’s website is my main tool. And, for example, the Justice State Information System, where all the sentences are published, seemed to have an odd layout. But you can learn how to use all of this, too.

There are a lot of resources, a lot of open data in Russia, which no one uses for some reason. In Moscow, they monitor the public procurement website, but in many regions, they simply do not. Some Moscow journalists come and note purchases made several years ago; they consider it to be some kind of discovery. Why? This is in the public domain. Why not look at it, not deal with it yourself, not try to answer this question?

Иван Голунов с руководителем Agriculture club Натальей Ермолиной. Фото Георгия Чентемирова

Ivan Golunov with Agriculture_club’s head Natalya Ermolina. Photo by Georgy Chentemirov

"Investigations are important for its subjects themselves"

Everyone fears that officials from the Mayor's office will come to them or call the editor while they are preparing some investigation. But let's try. All the officials from the Mayor's office might be only too happy about it. I was investigating corruption in the Moscow City Government. Actually, the Moscow City Government is the main object of my investigations. But there were the Moscow City Government's officials among those active officials who got involved in the situation and supported me. When people gathered in front of the court while I was being imposed a pre-trial restraint, the yard-keepers and employees of the Zhilishchnik State Institution came there to collect garbage and give bottles of water to everyone, because the weather was hot.

Of course, no one likes being investigated. Still, there must be investigations including for their subjects themselves, because this is how they remain on their toes and realize that they are under control and cannot do anything they want. Their colleagues also need this in order to understand how the system works.

About admirers from state-funded channels

My relationship status has not changed. But there actually were some weird situations. For some reason, a lot of women working for state-owned channels messaged me, "We would really like to meet you." I am kind of confused about this and do not know how to react. Let's say, I have been careful.

About origins and Karelia

Karelia is kind of close to me, because one of my family lines originates from the Tver Karelians. I actually indicated my nationality as Veps in the 2010 census.


* Meduza выполняет функцию иностранного агента. Мы ставим эту пометку по требованию Минюста и Роскомнадзора. Мы не согласны с законами, обязывающими делать эту маркировку.
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