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20 Jun, 2019 13:44

Putin vows accountability for police officers complicit in Golunov drug scandal

Putin vows accountability for police officers complicit in Golunov drug scandal

All officers involved in planting drugs on independent journalist Ivan Golunov must face penalties, Vladimir Putin said, urging more oversight over the police’s counter-narcotics department.

“Law enforcement agencies should be controlled to eliminate any wrongdoing, so they don’t put people in prison just to ‘tick a box,’” Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the annual Q&A session when asked about Ivan Golunov, who was briefly imprisoned under dubious drug charges.

He went on to tell the audience that two high-ranking police generals lost their jobs following the scandal, but further action shouldn’t be restricted to these dismissals. “I hope that there will be an inquiry to find those responsible for this abnormal situation,” Putin added.

He also suggested the Interior Ministry and FSB set up a task force to keep an eye on police counter-narcotics units.

Golunov, who investigated corruption among Moscow officials, was handcuffed in central Moscow earlier this month and was accused by the police of possessing and selling drugs. He denied being a drug dealer and insisted that he had been framed by corrupt officers.

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His arrest sparked massive rallies in Moscow and beyond, with Golunov receiving support from Russian journalists and public figures, who demanded a thorough inquiry into the alleged abuse of power by the police. Three leading newspapers printed nearly identical front pages on Monday, running a joint statement in support of the jailed journalist.

Last week, Russia’s interior minister announced that Golunov was cleared of all charges due to a lack of evidence against him. He was released from custody and was met by a cheering crowd of supporters. Officers suspected of planting drugs to justify his prosecution were eventually suspended and now face an investigation.

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