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11 Jun, 2019 14:08

Drug case against Russian journalist Golunov dropped

Drug case against Russian journalist Golunov dropped

A criminal case against a Russian investigative journalist, which sparked street protests and accusations of police misconduct, has been dropped due to lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, Russia’s interior minister announced.

The evidence gathered against Ivan Golunov by a Moscow narcotics unit, which accused him of being a drug dealer last week, was reexamined and found invalid, Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said on Tuesday.

The journalist, who was under house arrest, had his ankle monitor removed.

"I will now have to work harder to justify your confidence in me," Golunov said pledging to continue his investigations as he left the Investigative Committee building.

The interior minister said he will be asking President Vladimir Putin to sack the senior Moscow police official responsible for counter-drug investigations as well as other officials responsible for the scandal.

The police officers suspected of framing the journalist have been suspended pending an internal investigation, Kolokoltsev said. “The materials of a probe conducted by the police internal investigation unit have been sent to the Investigative Committee [an office under the Prosecutor General] to evaluate the validity of the actions of the officers who detained him,” he said.

Also on rt.com ‘We are Golunov’: Leading Russian papers run similar frontpage supporting charged journalist

Golunov was detained on Thursday, with police officers claiming they found drugs in his possession and accusing him of dealing drugs. The journalist denied the allegations and said the evidence was planted by the police in retaliation for his investigative journalism about local authorities.The case triggered widespread outrage in Russia, with leading media outlets and public figures demanding a swift probe into suspected police corruption.

Golunov also said police mistreated him while in custody, refusing his right for an attorney and even assaulting him violently. Allegations of brutality further fueled the public outrage over the case.

Also on rt.com Russian media solidarity for Golunov contrasts with loathsome US/UK press bootlicking over Assange

The developments were hailed by Russian human rights activists and media professionals, who were supporting Golunov.

The only thing I have to say is I am very happy,” said Mikhail Fedotov, the chair of the presidential human rights council. “This is an outcome I was expecting and I hope it’s not the end of this story.”

Galina Timchenko, the editor-in-chief of the news website Meduza, for which Golunov works, said she was “happy, crying” after learning the news.

“We all know that this happened thanks to the effort of hundreds and thousands of people. I am grateful to them all,” she said.

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