Russia: Journalist Vladimir Chugunov conditionally released

Vladimir Chugunov, a journalist held in psychiatric detention since January, was released on 27 May. PEN considers his arrest to be related to his writings and is concerned that the case against him is still pending and that he could be returned to prison if convicted.

Chugunov was arrested in Solnechnogorsk, 40 miles (64 km) north-west of Moscow, on 21 January and subsequently charged with ‘threatening to murder or cause serious health damage’ to the chief of a post office. Chugunov was held for over five months in isolation, during which time he claims to have been moved between prison cells, hospital and psychiatric wards. He has reportedly not been given a diagnosis for any psychiatric disorder. He told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he was administered unspecified medication, and that he suffered lice and scabies. He eventually went on a 10-day hunger strike in protest. 

In 2002, Chugunov received the Andrei Sakharov award for his journalism for his years of reporting on human rights issues and he has also written articles critical of the local authorities. He continued this despite attacks, including a 2002 attack by thugs who broke his right hand saying-‘Here you go now, writer, write if you can’. Commentators inside and outside Russia believe that the current criminal charges have been levied against Chugunov in retaliation for his reporting.

For more information on his case, please click here.

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