Russia drops charges against journalist Golunov, suspends arresting officers

Russia drops charges against journalist Golunov, suspends arresting officers
Russia drops charges against journalist Golunov, suspends arresting officers. picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Feldman
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On Tuesday, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev announced that all charges against investigative journalist Ivan Golunov had been dropped, and that the officers who arrested him last week on drug charges had been suspended.

"Today he will be released from house arrest and charges lifted," said Kolokoltsev, who added, "I believe that the rights of every citizen, regardless of profession, must be protected."

Request for dismissal of officers

Concerning disciplinary action, Kolokoltsev announced, "I have decided to request the Russian president dismiss the police chief for western Moscow, Major-General Andrei Puchkov, and the head of the Moscow police department for narcotics control, Major-General Yury Devyatkin."

Golunov, who works for the independent website Meduza and is known for exposing local corruption, was arrested in Moscow last Thursday for dealing drugs.

Beaten and arrested

He was reportedly beaten and held in custody without access to a lawyer for 12 hours before being put under house arrest after public outcry over the incident. Rights groups contend Golunov was framed.

Read more: 'Putin's chef' reports spark grisly death threats against Russian journalists

Pressure mounted on authorities after Golunov's arrest was announced last week with Russian news outlets banding together to call for the charges against him to be dropped.

Russian citizens voicing their dismay also organized special solo protests — to avoid Russia's ban on unlawful assembly — calling for his release.

'A really bad story'

Interior Minister Kolokoltsev on Tuesday said the accusations of drug trafficking against Golunov "have not been proven."

Valentina Matviyenko, the third most senior official in Russia, called the arrest of Golunov "a really bad story."

Speaking of the incident, she said: "Mistakes and violations have given rise to distrust in the investigation. People were either being unprofessional, or sloppy, or preparing a setup. I don't know what to call it at the moment."

Read more: Major Russian newspapers back arrested investigative journalist Golunov

js/msh (AFP, dpa)

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