Journalist Ivan Golunov's drug planters sentenced to 12 years

The state prosecutor solicited sentences from seven to 16 years to former police investigators who were accused of planting drugs to journalist Ivan Golunov.

Prosecutor Tatyana Parshintseva asked to punish former police officers accused of illegal detention and planting drugs to Meduza journalist (the publication is included on the list of foreign agents) Ivan Golunov, in the form of imprisonment for terms from seven to 16 years.

For Igor Lyakhovets, the former chief of the drug control department of the Internal Affairs Directorate for Moscow's Western Autonomous District, the state prosecutor asked a prison term of 16 years. For police officers Akbar Sergaliev, Maxim Umetbaev, Roman Feofanov — 12 years each. For Denis Konovalov — the only person, who pleaded guilty — the prosecutor asked for seven years in prison.

The former police officers were charged with power abuse, falsification of evidence and drug trafficking.

Journalist Ivan Golunov was detained on June 6, 2019 in a drug sale case. The next day, he was put under house arrest. During the trial, Golunov linked his prosecution with the preparation of his article about the cooperation of FSB officers with the funeral business.

A few days later, on June 12, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, announced the withdrawal of charges against the journalist and the closure of the case. He also announced that he would ask the president to dismiss two generals — the head of the Internal Affairs Directorate for Moscow's Western Autonomous District Andrey Puchkov and the head of the department for control over turnover drugs at Main Directorate of the Internal Affairs Ministry in Moscow, Yuri Devyatkin. Both of them were later fired, Devyatkin subsequently headed the Control and Accounts Chamber of the Bryansk region.

The plan to arrest the journalist was prepared three months in advance. Lyakhovets distributed a portion of false information and said that "a person named Ivan" with a phone number for Golunov was selling synthetic drugs at Mix and Magadan nightclubs on Moscow's Kutuzovsky Prospect. A memorandum document was subsequently issued stating that the information had been received from one of the prisoners. Based on the issued document, Lyakhovets opened an operational investigation case against Ivan Golunov on March 22.

On June 6, the journalist was detained near the Tsvetnoy Bulvar metro station. Five packages of "a substance derived from N-methylephedrone" weighing just over seven grams were planted into his backpack. The journalist was beaten. During the inspection of Golunov's apartment, 5.4 grams of cocaine, 0.37 grams of "a substance derived from N-methylephedrone" and electronic scales with traces of drugs were placed on his wardrobe.

The journalist then recalled that the police officers were insistently offering him a drink some water before being tested for drug intoxication and tried to seize all media that Golunov had both with him and in his apartment. They were also interested in his trips to Riga (where Meduza's editorial office is located). The inspection of Golunov's apartment was reduced to the "confiscation" of the drug packets that had been planted in his apartment. He said that the officers spent about ten minutes searching his kitchen, hallway and bathroom.

The police officers denied everything at court and called the accusation "a flight of imagination." They gave their testimony on the merits of the charges behind closed doors, since the methods of operational work and data from police officers' personal files that could be disclosed during interrogations constitute state secret.

Ivan Golunov will not appeal the verdict

Journalist Ivan Golunov will not appeal the verdict against the former police officers, who were sentenced to terms of up to 12 years for falsifying his case, RBC reports.

According to Golunov, he was completely satisfied with the verdict and would not appeal against it. He also noted that today's trial was about the organizers and perpetrators of the crime, rather than those who ordered it.

"I wanted justice, and I achieved it. At this stage. Now the second phase will begin, related to those who ordered it,” he said.

Ivan Golunov's arrest