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26 Feb, 2020 15:31

Putin praises response to arrest of journalist Golunov, lashes threats to families of security services

Putin praises response to arrest of journalist Golunov, lashes threats to families of security services

The framing of Ivan Golunov on bogus drugs charges outraged Russian civil society last summer, drawing condemnation from all sides of the political and ideological divide.

Now, Vladimir Putin says he believes the public outcry played a "positive role" in righting the injustice.

Following protests and unprecedented media unity, an investigation quickly discovered that the case against the journalist was fabricated. One month later, several police officers and two high ranking officials were fired. They now face criminal proceedings of their own.

"[The] intervention of the people makes a difference in today's Russia. If anything, this is good," the president said. "The situation is taking its natural course. Law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter. Some have been fired, some detained."

Putin was speaking to journalist Andrei Vandenko, who interviewed him as part of news agency TASS' series '20 Questions to Vladimir Putin.' This video, the fourth in the series, is dedicated to the most prominent criminal cases of 2019.

Putin stated that investigations should be carried out thoroughly and should not be rushed.

"Do you want them to beat confessions out of people or to obtain them in due course in conformity with the current law?" he asked. "The latter seems a better option. But it takes time. There shouldn't be any rush, nor any haste."

Golunov was arrested in Moscow on drug-related crime charges on June 6 last year. His colleagues quickly expressed their belief that the case was fabricated, and less than a week later, after many well-known figures in society spoke out in his favor, Golunov was released. On January 30, 2020, the court arrested several former police officers on charges of abuse of office, falsification of evidence, and drug possession. One of the officers pleaded guilty.

Vandenko and Putin also discussed other recent prominent cases, such as that of Konstantin Kotov. Kotov was sentenced to four years in prison after breaking Russian protest laws by taking part in multiple unsanctioned rallies. In January, the Constitutional Court overturned the decision. Putin had earlier instructed the relevant authorities to check the legality and validity of the guilty verdict against Kotov.

"It so happens that the president, acting as the guarantor of the Constitution, has such a right, and must respond to these sorts of issues, which we see happening in practice," he said.

Putin was also asked about the Moscow protests of Summer 2019 and spoke out against unauthorized rallies, threats against the family of National Guard personnel, and violence seen on the streets.

"Today somebody throws a bottle, tomorrow a chair, and then cars are smashed to pieces. It cannot be allowed," he insisted. "Things mustn't get out of hand. It has to be within the law."

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