Connect with us

Industry

Drug Charges Against Russian Reporter Dropped After Protests

Published

on

  • 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.

Golunov Released

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.

Protests

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)

Industry

Tana Mongeau Seemingly Defends Talent Agency After Backlash

Published

on

  • YouTuber Tana Mongeau officially launched an influencer management division on Monday called Tana’s Angel’s Agency.
  • She wrote on Instagram that she is regularly asked for advice about how to build a following on platforms like OnlyFans and said this new venture will allow her to help people break into the business. 
  • Mongeau quickly faced backlash from those who believe she is not qualified to teach people how to build an audience from the ground up and from others who think the agency is a “scam.”
  • In response, Mongeau said she “hired an amazing team” of successful people and will only sign creators “that I truly feel I can benefit, and that I believe in & resonate with.”

Tana Mongeau Launches Management Division

YouTuber Tana Mongeau launched an influencer management agency on Monday named Tana’s Angels Agency.

The division is part of Unruly Agency, a social media marketing and management company owned by Tara Electra, who will be leading the launch alongside Mongeau and her manager, David Weintraub. Mongeau said she wants to use the agency to help aspiring content creators because when she was just starting out, she could have benefited from a mentor. 

“Throughout my career I’ve been taken advantage of more times than I can count,” she previously told Us Weekly.”I am starting TAA to teach people how to not make the mistakes I made early on in my career.” 

In a Monday Instagram post, Mongeau wrote that she regularly gets messages from people asking for advice about how to get started and make money on platforms like OnlyFans. Mongeau said that by starting this agency, she can now use her “experiences, platform, connections, knowledge and creativity” to help these small creators find her same success. She also said that the same people who helped her make millions of dollars on OnlyFans will be part of the TAA team.

“I brought on those people to TAA to finally be able to share their expertise, marketing knowledge, and much more with authentic creators I believe in- big, small, or starting today,” she wrote. 

TAA Receives Backlash

However, this pursuit has not come without a fair amount of backlash. Many people have shared Mongeau’s tweet announcing TAA and criticized her for the venture. Among other things, many believe she is not qualified to teach people how to build a following from the ground up because she was already famous when she started her OnlyFans.

Others accused her of taking advantage of OnlyFans users and sex workers who are already struggling enough, while others accused her of being a pimp and running a scam. 

Mongeau seems to be aware of some of this criticism, as she joked in a tweet early on Tuesday saying, “Someone commented ‘how she gon have a talent agency with no talent’ on my post i’m screaming.”

She then further explained the intent behind TAA.

“I hired an amazing team of lots of individuals who have helped me earn millions on OF and with other opportunities to help me alongside this project. I’m also only signing people onto Tana‘s Angels that I truly feel I can benefit, and that I believe in & resonate with.”

The backlash also does not seem to be slowing her down. Mongeau said that within the first 10 hours of the launch, 100,000 people applied to be part of TAA. 

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Daily Dot) (Us Weekly)

Continue Reading

Industry

New Footage Shows YouTuber David Dobrik’s Role in Jeff Wittek’s Life-Threatening Accident

Published

on

  • The latest episode of YouTuber Jeff Wittek’s docuseries “Don’t Try This At Home” revealed that he sustained a serious facial injury last year while filming a dangerous stunt on an excavator that was operated by fellow creator David Dobrik.
  • Dobrik said he wanted to make major stunt videos with his Vlog Squad as a return to YouTube amid the pandemic. 
  • For one stunt, Vlog Squad members hung onto a rope that was attached to an excavator in a lake while Dobrik swung them around. When Wittek was on the rope, he swung so fast that he crashed into the excavator and fell into the water face-down.
  • Dobrik is now facing backlash online from people who are shocked that he endangered his friends’ lives for YouTube content. 

Footage Show Dangerous Stunt Gone Wrong

Footage from the second episode of YouTuber Jeff Wittek’s series “Don’t Try This At Home” shows that David Dobrik was involved in the accident that left Witteck with serious face injuries last year.

Wittek had previously spoken about his injuries but never revealed the details behind what caused them. His latest episode, titled “How I Broke My Face,” was posted Wednesday night and answered many long-asked questions about the incident.

The video starts with Wittek and other Vlog Squad members discussing how the coronavirus pandemic shut the world down and paused the group’s ability to make videos together. Dobrik, one of the most popular creators on YouTube, said he wanted to make major stunt videos as their return to the platform. 

For one of these stunts, Dobrik put an excavator in a lake that he said was roughly one foot deep. Dobrik then operated the machine as Vlog Squad members wakeboarded and surfed on the lake while attached to it, but they wanted to take things to the next level. 

“I’m sitting there watching Todd wakesurf for hours and great, but we’re here trying to make a funny video,” Wittek explained. “If you want wakeboarding videos, go to Youtube and type ‘cool guy wake surfing’ and I’m sure you’ll see a ton of them.” 

Members of the group then proceeded to hold onto a rope that was attached to the excavator while Dobrik operated it and swung them around the lake. Vlog Squadder Corinna Kopff was the first to give it a try but eventually asked to be taken down because it felt dangerous. 

“You take things too far,” she said to Dobrik as she was hopping off the rope.

Wittek then opted to give it a try. He had just spent time skydiving with members of the Vlog Squad for a separate part of Dobrik’s return video, so he figured he could handle this seemingly easier stunt.

“So I grabbed the rope and I tried to make a goddamn funny video for people,” Wittek said. “But this is where I made a mistake. I forgot the biggest fucking idiot I knew was driving it.” 

The footage then shows Wittek swinging incredibly fast into the excavator and then cuts to black. The next shot shows him falling face-down into the lake. 

“Time literally slows down,” Dobrik said while describing the moment. 

“The whole side of his face is just open,” Vlog Squadder Todd Smith added.

Dobrik Faces Backlash for “Reckless” Behavior

Dobrik trended on Twitter Thursday morning as people accused him of endangering Wittek’s life in the name of making YouTube content.

“David Dobrik needs to be stopped. He’s always been irresponsible at his friends expense for YOUTUBE videos,” one person wrote. “He COULD have been charged with manslaughter had Jeff been inches closer to the excavator.”

The comments on the video are filled with similar outrage. 

“You’re lucky to be alive,” one YouTube user wrote. “I still can’t believe what I saw. It’s so reckless what he did to you and the extreme lengths and measures that people do at other people’s expenses just to get Youtube video views is insane.” 

“It’s amazing David Dobrik hasn’t killed someone for a Youtube video yet,” another person added. 

Major creators like Trisha Paytas, who has long been vocal about her issues with Dobrik and the Vlog Squad, also expressed her disgust at the video.

“The fact that he has Natalie THERE + three assistants , Meghan the pr fairy, and dumbass jack manager guy and not one person could get a stunt coordinator / medic for this is another level of negligence,” she said.  

Dobrik’s Month of Scandals

So far, Dobrik has not responded to the wave of outrage. He has been facing intense criticism for the last month over his involvement with a separate issue with the Vlog Squad. Former member Dom Zegalitis, also known as Durte Dom, was accused in March of raping a woman who was too drunk to consent in 2018. 

The alleged assault happened when the woman was with Dobrik’s Vlog Squad to film a video. The woman, who was under 21 at the time, said members of the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol. 

Zeglaitis recently denied the rape allegation and said “as far as I am concerned, everything that occurred during the night in question was completely consensual.”

Dobrik released two videos addressing the incident, claiming he no longer associates with Zeglaitis and wants to take accountability for what happened in the Vlog Squad under his watch. He said he would be taking time away from the Internet to reevaluate the way he creates content. 

Dobrik has lost major brand deals as a result of this controversy. He also had to step away from the social media app he founded, Dispo, following the accusation.

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Dexerto) (Seventeen)

Continue Reading

Industry

Mark Rober Faces Backlash Over NEXT For Autism Fundraiser

Published

on

  • YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for hosting a star-studded fundraiser with Jimmy Kimmel for the charity NEXT for Autism. 
  • Rober announced the fundraiser in a video on Friday where he shared that his son is on the autism spectrum.
  • Many online, including several people in the autistic community, said NEXT supports finding treatments and cures for autism, something the community does not believe in. Some also were frustrated that the group supports the controversial practice of Applied Behavioral Analysis, a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills..
  • Following the criticism, NEXT released a statement saying it does not support finding a cure for autism and that while it does deal with ABA, the practice has changed over the years and it does not support dangerous variations. 

Mark Rober’s Fundraiser Faces Backlash

YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for an upcoming livestream fundraiser he is hosting with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to support NEXT for Autism. 

The livestream, called Color the Spectrum, will be held on April 30 and will feature major television, film, and internet celebrities including MrBeast, Jack Black, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Andy Samberg, Paul Rudd, Mark Hamill, Sarah Silverman, Terry Crews, Rhett & Link, and John Oliver. Rober announced the event in a video on Friday titled “The Truth About My Son” where he revealed that his son is autistic. According to Rober’s donation tab on YouTube, the initiative has already brought in over $850,000 for NEXT for Autism. 

While some people have applauded his efforts, others are slamming Rober, Kimmel, and the other stars participating in the event for aiding the organization. Many people in the autistic community believe that NEXT for Autism’s work does not help autistic people; rather, they claim it actually harms them. 

On Twitter, many said the organization promotes and supports finding a “cure” for autism, something that many in the community do not believe in. NEXT is tied to a variety of groups, including Autism Speaks and The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, which have been criticized for similar reasons. 

While Autism Speaks has removed “cures” from its mission statement, the latter still says it is devoted to finding “treatments.” Many circulated a screenshot of a mission statement from CADB where prevention efforts were listed as a focus, as well; however, that no longer appears on its website. 

Others were critical of NEXT’s support for a practice called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which is a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills. Some have described this as a “conversion therapy” for autistic people. 

Additionally, people took issue with the fact that NEXT does not have a lot of autisic people on its board or working in leadership positions for the group. Some also disagreed with the way Rober painted autism in his video, feeling that he suggested autistic people’s main contributions to the world were limited to their positivity. 

Petition Calls for Event to Be Canceled

A petition calling for the event to be canceled currently has over 10,000 signatures. It compared some of NEXT’s practices to eugenics and said the group supports “other extremely harmful ideologies that all come down to the sole purpose of ending the existence of autistic people.” 

The petition suggested that people who want to donate to the autistic community should find other organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network.

A Twitter user named Dave Shaw wrote an open letter to those involved in the fundraiser asking them to not support NEXT.

“As an austistic adult, I can assure you that like any other marginalised community we want and need acceptance and to be included in society,” he wrote. “The organization behind the upcoming livestream, Next For Autism, does not provide nor aim for this.” 

He backed many of the other issues people have had with NEXT, calling ABA “traumatic” and a from of “child abuse.” He also stood against efforts to cure autism. 

“Autism is not a disease or a defect to be cured. It is simply a form of diversity,” he wrote. 

His letter caught the attention of YouTubers Rhett & Link, who were scheduled to appear in the livestream.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” they wrote back. “We are no longer participating in the event.”

NEXT For Autism Responds

Following the backlash, NEXT released a statement on Monday defending its practices and denying allegations that it is funding efforts to cure autism. 

“There have been some outrageous misinformation circulating about Next for Autism, its mission, methods, and partners,” that statement said. 

“Our mission has never been the cure or prevention of autism, in fact, NEXT was created to fill a void,” it continued, adding that when it was founded, most groups aiding the autistic community were working to fund biomedical research, while NEXT was focused on school services. 

The statement then addressed NEXT’s partnership with Autism Speaks and said it only works with the group to aid its mission of expanding access to programs and services. 

“Anyone using these partnerships to draw a line from NEXT to eugenics or anything related to the prevention and cure of autism is doing an enormous disservice to the people we serve by spreading this gross untruth.”

Regarding ABA, NEXT said the methodology has changed over the years and bears no resemblance to the conversion therapy-like treatments people are claiming the group supports. 

NEXT also said it is committed to including more Autistic board members in the future. 

For his part, Rober wrote that proceeds from Color the Spectrum will go directly towards services to helping autistic people after they graduate towards high school, a time period where programs are particularly lacking. His post did not directly address the backlash, but clarified where money raised will go. 

Continue Reading