Golunov's case has also sparked debates over the need to reform the law on drug possession in Russian Federation, which, critics, say, have been used to silence opposition figures and truth-seeking journalists. Golunov's case presents a major headache for Putin who has in recent months been struggling with low approval ratings amid economic trouble and rising poverty.
Information quickly surfaced indicating Moscow police acted based on falsified evidence and sham allegations.
The authorities had hoped freeing Golunov and promising punishment for those who allegedly framed him would appease his supporters, but they chose to go ahead with a protest on Wednesday, a public holiday in Russian Federation, regardless. According to the Interior Ministry's main Moscow office, Golunov was carrying four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug, while five grams of cocaine were found during a search of his rented apartment.
The journalist himself decided against attending the unauthorized rally.
Before the police backed down, almost 25,000 people had signed up to a Facebook page expressing their intention to take part in a protest march on Wednesday in solidarity with Golunov. At least 57 people were detained amid a heavy police presence, the OVD Info monitor said.
Protesters waved banners and wore T-shirts with the slogan "I/We are Ivan Golunov" and accused police of the spend of criminal behaviour in piquant the reporter.
Footage of the arrests and of the crowds gathered in the centre of the city were shared on social media.
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Before Golunov's release 25,000 people had expressed interest in the solidarity march on Facebook.
The interior minister admitted that Mr Golunov's guilt had "not been proven", and that an internal inquiry had been launched.
Officers in insurrection tools clashed with protesters all the blueprint during the unauthorised march in enhance of Ivan Golunov.
"I trust that the rights of every citizen, no matter his occupation, want to be safe", he asserted.
"The authorities are very much scared of the fantastic and unanimous display of solidarity in the Golunov case", Navalny tweeted. The website was established by Russian journalists from Lenta.ru, who formed their own outlet overseas after a takeover by a new pro-Kremlin owner.
Golunov's reporting included an investigation into the finances of Moscow's deputy mayor's family, the funding of public works in Moscow, and efforts to suppress press freedom.
The journalist's lawyers and press freedom activists said the drugs had been planted in order to silence the investigative journalist. Grand of Russia's media is controlled by the speak and Russian Federation is ranked 83rd out of 100 countries for press freedom by Freedom House. However, it is clear that the Criminal Code provides for punishment for a fabricated case against a journalist.