Five Former Moscow Police Officers Jailed Over 2019 Arrest Of Journalist Golunov

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(Article text ©2021 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 28, 2021 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-moscow-police-golunov-prison/31278496.html)

A Russian court has sentenced five former police officers to several years in prison for the 2019 arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov on trumped-up drug charges.

The Moscow City Court on May 28 handed down prison terms ranging between five years and 12 years after finding the men guilty of the charges following a closed-door trial.

They were also ordered to pay Golunov 1 million rubles ($13,600) each in compensation.

The 38-year-old Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based information outlet Meduza, was arrested in June 2019 in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs.

He was released several days later after the charges were dropped following a public outcry. The journalist suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during the ordeal.

The police officers who detained Golunov were taken into custody in January 2020 and later charged with abuse of service duties, the falsification of evidence, the illegal handling of drugs, and “committing a crime in an organized group.”

Prosecutors had asked the Moscow City Court to hand down prison terms ranging between seven and 16 years.

Four of the defendants pleaded not guilty.

The head of the Moscow police department’s drug control directorate and the police chief in Moscow’s West administrative region were fired over the case.

In a rare move, the Prosecutor’s Office of Moscow’s Western District apologized to Golunov in February 2020 for his illegal prosecution.