- Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was released Tuesday after Russian officials dropped drug charges that had been brought against him last week.
- Golunov said that he had been framed because of his reporting on government corruption.
- Russian journalists responded by launching a multi-day protest, and prominent Russian newspapers called for his release in a move experts have said was unprecedented.
Russian government authorities dropped drug trafficking charges against investigative journalist Ivan Golunov Tuesday, following significant backlash and protests from Russian journalists and media over his arrest.
Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in a statement that the charges had been dropped because of a lack of evidence.
“According to the results of biological, forensic and fingerprint examinations and DNA testing, a decision was made to terminate the criminal prosecution of citizen Ivan Golunov due to the lack of evidence of his participation in the crime,” Kolokoltsev said in the statement.
Golunov was arrested and detained by police on Thursday, and after an invasive search, the officers claimed to have found drugs in his backpack. The police also said they found more drugs and other paraphernalia when they searched his apartment.
He was later charged with drug trafficking and taken to prison, though he denied the charges and said he was framed because of his reporting on high-level Russian corruption.
Suspicion Around Arrest
Others were quick to echo Golunov’s accusation against the police.
Golunov, who is well-known in Russia for his investigative work, had been writing for an online publication called Meduza, which is Russian-owned but is operated in Latvia to avoid persecution.
Following Golunov’s arrest, Meduza published a statement online defending him and arguing that his imprisonment was politically motivated. “We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent,” the statement said. “Moreover, we have reason to believe that Goll-Loo-Noff is being persecuted because of his journalistic activities.”
Meduza also outlined suspicious activities surrounding Golunov’s arrest. According to the statement, Golunov’s lawyers requested that the police test his hands and nails to see if he had touched narcotics. The police refused.
Meduza also said that Golunov had been beaten by police when he was detained, but when he and his lawyer requested he go to a hospital he was again denied. Meduza additionally noted that Golunov had received threats over his work in recent months
Following the arrest, the police launched their own publicity campaign, publishing nine “incriminating” pictures of drugs and a pharmaceutical scale that they claimed they took at Golunov’s apartment.
However, several journalists quickly established that the pictures were not actually taken in his apartment. Shortly after, the police backtracked and admitted that most of the pictures were in fact taken elsewhere.
After the police fumble, even the Russian government acknowledged that there was conflicting information in the case.
“We have paid attention to the corrections that were later published, and we also proceed from the fact that there are several issues that are in need of a clarification,” a Kremlin spokesman said.
On Friday, Russian journalists launched a protest in front of the police headquarters in Moscow.
Under Russian law, protestors are required to get permits two weeks before planned demonstrations, but the protestors came up with a clever solution. Instead of all protesting together, activists took turns standing one at a time and holding a sign for 15 minutes or so and then passing the post off to the next person.
People lined up down the block to take turns to be the one-person protest. Reportedly, the line was so long that people waited for hours.
Unsurprisingly, police special forces moved quickly to detain about a dozen protestors, including some prominent Russian journalists who were held in custody for a little while before being released.
However, the line kept getting longer and longer, and those protests continued all weekend, even moving to the court where Golunov was set to appear for a hearing.
At the same time, a number of Russian celebrities and artists took to social media to call for Golunov’s release, and argued that his arrest was a violation of freedom of speech and an important test case for rule of law.
Russian Newspapers Express Support
The most surprising move came on Monday, when three leading Russian business newspapers published the same exact front pages with the headline: “I/We are Ivan Golunov.”
While all three of those newspapers are private rather than state-owned, all of them are usually very loyal to the Russian government.
After that, even a few very prominent pro-government broadcasters express skepticism about the case. Additionally, a petition calling for Golunov’s release reportedly received 7,500 signatures from other journalists, including those who worked for state-owned outlets.
As a result, experts have described the act as an unprecedented expression of solidarity with another journalist, as well as an unprecedented defiance of the Kremlin.
While Golunov’s release is an exciting and watershed moment for journalists in Russia, many wonder if it is just a one-off occurrence. Russia has long been criticized for its treatment of independent journalists, and just recently, have significantly ramped up their censorship efforts in the past few months.
In March, Vladimir Putin signed two new laws that would punish anyone who spread “fake news” or insulted the government with heavy fines and jail time. Under those laws, online media can be reported to the government, which then can block access to websites if the content that violates the law.
Golunov’s arrest was also not an isolated incident. On Friday, Meduza published an article listing 8 other journalists and activists who have gotten prison time for “drug charges” over the last few years.
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (CNN) (BBC)
Google and YouTube Could Be Banned From San Francisco’s Pride Parade
- Seven members of SF Pride voted to ban Google and its affiliates from future parades, arguing that the company does not do enough to protect the LGBTQ community.
- There were debates over whether or not the vote is legally binding since only 12 of the 326 members were present.
- The organization said its board will meet on Feb. 5 to determine what happens next.
What Prompted the Vote?
YouTube and its parent company, Google, may no longer be welcome at San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ pride parade after a group of event organizers voted to ban them from future festivities.
Members of San Francisco Pride passed the resolution against Google and its affiliates on Jan. 15, saying the company is not doing enough to protect members of the LGBTQ community, particularly when it comes to hate speech and harassment on YouTube.
Though YouTube has been a long-time supporter of the LGBTQ community in terms of corporate marketing, it’s faced a ton of backlash in recent months from critics who accused the platform of not supporting the community with its policies.
For many, this became apparent when Vox journalist Carlos Maza said he had been a victim of homophobic and racist harassment at the hands of conservative commentator Steven Crowder. Maza claimed that over the course of two years, Crowder called him names including “Mr.Gay Vox,” “lispy queer,” and “anchor baby.”
YouTube initially responded by letting Crowder’s videos stand, saying that while his comments were hurtful, they did not violate community guidelines. Instead, the platform suspended Crowder’s ability to earn ad revenue.
That decision sparked widespread outrage both from the general public and internally. Soon after, over 140 Google employees signed a letter asking SF Pride to drop Google from its parade. Meanwhile dozens of others marched to protest against the company’s policies, despite being warned that doing so would violate Google’s code of conduct and potentially cost them their jobs.
About six months after the Maza- Crowder controversy, the company updated its harassment policy, banning content that contains malicious insults based on race, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But organizers say that isn’t enough to protect LGBTQ users and argue that creators like Crowder still remain popular on the platform.
Is the Vote Legal?
The vote marks a huge change in the attitude that many have towards Google, which was once viewed as a corporate leader in its support of the LBGTQ community.
“Companies are no longer scared to be seen as pro-LGBTQ; in fact, their participation is a great opportunity for them. We believe companies should earn that opportunity by proving that they really do stand with our community,” the members seeking to ban Google said in a statement to Recode.
However, it’s important to note that the vote represents only a small percentage of the organization given that only about 12 of the 326 members were present at the time. Seven people voted in favor of the ban, according to the interim executive director, Fred Lopez.
Lopez told Recode that some members of the board questioned whether the vote was legally binding without the board’s approval. Others argued that members do have the authority to pass the ban since current bylaws don’t appear to restrict them from making amendments.
Lopez explained that the group was looking into the legality of the vote saying, “Our legal team is reviewing the implications of last week’s vote by seven of Pride’s 326 members. Our Board of Directors will meet February 5th to determine our next step.”
The effort to ban Google is being led by former Google employee Laurence Berland, who claims the company fired him for workplace organizing. Google denied this claim and told Recode that Berland violated company data security policies. However, Berland has been fighting for Google to be banned since last June, when he was still working for the company and is now urging the board to approve the motion at the Feb. 5 meeting.
Meanwhile, Google has expressed disappointment in the news. “Google has been a proud supporter of San Francisco Pride for over a decade,” the company told Recode in a statement.
“We’re saddened that seven members, including a recently fired employee, decided to recommend banning Google, YouTube, and our employees from supporting this important community organization. SF Pride has over 300 members and a separate board that makes the ultimate decision on participation; we’ll continue to work with the San Francisco Pride board and its broader membership on next steps.”
The spokesperson also defended the company against claims that it doesn’t support the LGBTQ community, pointing out that Google has opposed laws that target the LGBTQ individuals and has provided employees with same-sex health benefits that include coverage of gender reassignment surgery.
See what others are saying: (Recode) (Tubefilter) (SF Gate)
Onision Calls 911 on Chris Hansen, Files Court Order
- YouTuber Onision, who has long been accused of predatory behavior, recently called 911 when journalist Chris Hansen showed up to his door.
- Hansen has been extensively covering the accusations against Onision, and Onision told the dispatcher he was his “internet stalker.”
- No arrests were made once police arrived, but Onision has filed a court order against both Hansen and another YouTuber, Repzion, who has also been covering the allegations.
- Hansen posted another video saying that he obtained police records showing that Onision’s daughter fell from a window and that Onision recorded the aftermath.
Court Order Filed
YouTuber Onision is filing a court personal protection order against journalist Chris Hansen, who has been covering the series of accusations of grooming and predatory behavior levied against him.
Hansen said in a video on Monday that Onision, who is also known as Greg or James Jackson, filed the order in Washington state. Jackson also filed the order against YouTuber Repzion, or Daniel Sulzbach, who has also posted several videos about the long-standing allegations.
Many have claimed that Jackson, along with his partner Kai, grooms young women, often minors who are fans of his, to become sexually intimate with him once they turn 18. Others have also brought up potential cases of other inappropriate, predatory behavior. Several girls have spoken to Hansen on his YouTube channel to explain their claims. Some have described a system of control and manipulation, such as a list of rules Jackson and Kai force the girls to follow.
Jackson has regularly denied the allegations. Rogue Rocket reached out to him to discuss them back in December. He asked for $10,000 in exchange for an interview.
Hansen Attempts to Reach Out to Onision
This was not the first time Hansen had attempted to reach Jackson to hear his side of the story. Hansen has claimed that he too was asked for monetary compensation in order to ask Jackson questions. On January 13, he posted a video of the 911 call Jackson made when he knocked on his door in an attempt at a face-to-face conversation.
In the call, Jackson refers to Hanson as an “internet stalker.” Hansen is seen standing outside of his door, knocking and sometimes speaking. He was accompanied by a camera crew and his attorney, Mike Morse. Police did arrive and no arrests were made.
In another video Hansen uploaded about his trip to speak with Jackson, he said that it appeared that Jackson was no stranger to officers.
“It quickly became clear that Greg was not unfamiliar to the local law enforcement authorities here,” Hansen explained to the camera in a video that has amassed over one million views. “They were aware of his YouTube antics, the allegations of inappropriate contact with young women.”
He also added that Jackson declined to speak to him when given the opportunity, something Hansen noted was typical behavior in his experience investigating child predators.
Hansen confirmed the court order in a video week later.
Police Report on Onision’s Child
In the video where Hansen explained the court order, he also gave a disturbing update he found in regards to Jackson and Kai’s children when working with police.
“We’ve now obtained Pierce County Sheriff’s reports about a 911 call in September of 2019,” Hansen said. “According to the transcripts, Onision and Kai’s young daughter fell from a second story bedroom window landing in the driveway.”
Hansen also added that this report notes that Jackson actually took a video of his young daughter in the driveway while she was injured, and panned up to the window that she fell from. As for the details of what happened, many have been sharing what appear to be screenshots of the records of the incident. Rogue Rocket requested the records, but has not received them yet, therefore we cannot confirm them. Some of the information in the screenshots shared does line up with what Hansen described in the video.
One screenshot came from Good Citizens Records, which said they obtained the police report. They redacted information to protect Jackson’s daughter and said that the accident was in fact an accident.
According to the screenshots, the police had previously done welfare checks at Jackson’s home and they had received calls about him “possibly sexually abusing young girls.”
As for why he recorded his child in the aftermath of the fall, Jackson said he wanted to be able to show the doctor what happened. According to the screenshots, Jackson referenced an event in 2011 when a friend allegedly threatened to kill herself and make it look like he did it, and he wanted the video to show police he was not responsible. The report calls this explanation “strange.”
Another unconfirmed screenshot goes into the details of the accident and the injury obtained from it. It appears his daughter suffered from skull fractures as a result of the fall.
The fractures did not initially seem life-threatening, though that could rapidly change. Hansen said he will be covering more on this later in the week.
See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Insider) (Mashable)
Too Faced Co-Founder Condemns Sister’s Post Calling NikkieTutorials a Liar After Coming Out as Transgender
- Massive Beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials came out as transgender in a new video that has been received with widespread praise.
- However, fans were upset to learn that she was pushed to share her story after unnamed people threatened to leak the information to the press.
- Too Faced Cosmetics then came under scrutiny when the cofounder’s sister made a snide comment about NikkieTutorials being a liar, continuing a long-running feud between the brand and beauty guru.
- The brand co-founder issued a statement condemning his sister’s behavior and said she is no longer employed by Too Faced.
Too Faced Apologizes
Too Faced Cosmetics co-founder Jerrod Blandino apologized Tuesday for his sister Lisa who called beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials a liar hours after she came out as transgender.
“I would like to make sure it is understood that although I love my sister very much, the things she says or does have absolutely nothing to do with me and do not in any way reflect me, my opinions, thoughts, or feelings nor speak for me or Too Faced in any way shape or form,” Blandino wrote in a post on Instagram stories.
“I am sorry for the hurt she has caused…I do not tolerate this behavior and she is no longer an employee of Too Faced,” he added before expressing how proud he was of NikkieTutorials for sharing her truth.
His post was later shared across the brand’s official social media accounts.
“I’m Coming Out”
The backlash against Too Faced came shortly after Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials, came out as transgender in an emotional 17-minute video posted Monday.
“I can’t believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be truly free,” de Jager said in the video titled “I’m Coming Out.”
“When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender,” she continued.
The 25-year-old from the Netherlands, who has been posting on YouTube for 11 years, opened up about her childhood, explaining that she identified as female for as long as she can remember and began transitioning at a young age with the support of her mother.
De Jager said she had grown her hair out at the age of 6 and was wearing only girls clothing a year or two later. She started hormone treatments and growth stoppers at 14-years-old and “fully transitioned” by the age of 19.
“I transitioned while on YouTube,” the beauty guru said. “And saying that right now seems so crazy to me because I have literally grown up and transformed into me in front of all of you.”
De Jager, one of YouTube’s top beauty creators who has amassed over 12 million subscribers, said she kept her story private for so long because she wanted to live free of labels and wanted her channel to focus on her art.
However, she wanted to assure her fans that she is the same person they have loved and supported for years. “I am me. I am still Nikkie. Nothing changes about that,” she said. “The last thing I want in my life is for you to not trust me anymore, or to look at me with different eyes, or look at me in a different manner, or think that I have changed.”
While de Jager explained that she has always wanted to share her story with her audience, she admitted that she was doing so now after someone had threatened to pubically out her.
“So today, I am taking back my own power and I have to tell you something,” she said before making her announcement.
Without ever naming who was behind the blackmail attempt, de Jager talked more about how it made her feel.
“I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press,” she said. “And at first it was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile. It is gross and I know you are watching this.”
She claimed that those blackmailing her wanted to leak her story because they said she is lying and “too scared” to tell people who she really is.
“I’m not scared,” she said directly to the camera before holding her middle finger up to the people who, “thought they could really mess up my life with that.”
Praise from Fans
De Jager’s announcement was met with widespread support from celebs, fans, and fellow YouTubers, many of whom were outraged at the fact that someone else had tried to leak her story.
Lisa Blandino Sparks Outrage
However, not everyone was supportive of the beauty guru. Twitter users and YouTube drama channels ready to defend de Jager against hate screenshotted a snide comment allegedly made by Lisa Blandino.
The screenshots showed that on her Instagram account @makupprincess, under the name Dani California, she changed her bio to: “Transgender huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING about.”
The comment appeared to signal a continuation of the long-running feud between the beauty star and Too Faced Cosmetics.
In Shane Dawson’s docuseries about his collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Star once again accused Too Faced of massively underpaying de Jager for her 2016 makeup collaboration with them. According to Star, she received a $50,000 flat fee for a palette that brought them in over $10 million.
While de Jagger has not openly discussed much about her profits on the palette, she has previously mentioned frustrations over the quality of the product.
After screenshots of Blandino’s comment spread across the internet, many became upset that someone would take such a sensitive moment as an opportunity to tear de Jager down and felt that regardless of any feud, the comment was insensitive.
Enraged social media users began calling Too Faced disgusting and transphobic and soon after, the @makupprincess account changed its bio to read: “Let’s be clear, I love trans people & dislike anyone who lies to hurt others! Period!”
The comment further enraged internet users went on to call for a boycott of the brand. Some even accused Too Faced of possibly being responsible for blackmailing de Jagger.
Im highly suspicious of her. Besides the fact she is trash, it seems to me she might be involved w the blackmail. And if she was involved… i wouldnt be overly surprised her brother might have AT LEAST known about it.— KateyCakes (@KateyKGecko) January 14, 2020