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Russian court sentences ex-police officers to up to 12 years behind bars for planting drugs in attempt to frame Meduza journalist

Russian court sentences ex-police officers to up to 12 years behind bars for planting drugs in attempt to frame Meduza journalist
Five former detectives have been handed lengthy jail terms in Russia for their roles in fabricating evidence against a reporter in a case that sparked outrage across the country, with President Vladimir Putin wading into the row.

Moscow City Court passed down the judgement on Friday, sentencing Igor Lyakhovets, the former deputy head of the drugs division in the west of the capital, to a 12-year spell in prison. His then-subordinates Akbar Sergaliev, Roman Feofanov and Maxim Umetbaev received eight years each, while a fifth, Denis Konovalov, took a deal to plead guilty and received a five-year term. Each was fined one million rubles ($13,600 USD), stripped of their ranks and given bans from holding public service roles.

The ex-officers arrested Ivan Golunov in June 2019, claiming he had been in possession of the recreational drug mephedrone while he was working as a correspondent for Meduza, a Latvia-based news site registered as a ‘foreign agent’ by Russia’s Ministry of Justice over links to overseas funding.

Also on rt.com Russian ex-police officers face up to 16 years in prison over claims they fabricated false drugs charges against Meduza journalist

However, the reporter was released only five days later, after a large-scale public outcry that saw Russian news outlets rally together to protest his innocence. Hundreds even took to the streets to demonstrate against the arrest in Moscow and cities across the country. Several leading newspapers also published identical front pages to show solidarity with the detained journalist.

Last year, Golunov's lawyer Sergey Badamshin revealed that police had officially recognized him as a "victim” in the case, and in January he was summoned for questioning about the conduct of the arresting officers, who were detained days later.

READ MORE: Former Moscow Police officers arrested over framing of Russian journalist Ivan Golunov

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out about the case at the time, saying that it showed there was accountability in the justice system, as well as ordering the dismissal of two high-ranking Interior Ministry officials over the case. “[The] intervention of the people makes a difference in today's Russia,” Putin said. “If anything, this is good… the situation is taking its natural course. Law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter. Some have been fired, some detained.”

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