Drug case against Russian journalist Golunov dropped, he will be freed from house arrest

A criminal case against a Russian investigative journalist, which sparked street protests and accusations of police misconduct, has been dropped due to lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, Russias interior minister announced.

The evidence gathered against Ivan Golunov by a Moscow narcotics unit, which accused him of being a drug dealer last week, was reexamined and found invalid, Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said on Tuesday. He added that the journalist will be released from house arrest, which was ordered by a court on Saturday, later in the day.

The interior minister said he will be asking President Vladimir Putin to sack the senior Moscow police official responsible for counter-drug investigations as well as other officials responsible for the scandal.

The police officers suspected of framing the journalist have been suspended pending an internal investigation, Kolokoltsev said. “The materials of a probe conducted by the police internal investigation unit have been sent to the Investigative Committee [an office under the Prosecutor General] to evaluate the validity of the actions of the officers who detained him,” he said.

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Golunov was detained on Thursday, with police officers claiming they found drugs in his possession and accusing him of dealing drugs. The journalist denied the allegations and said the evidence was planted by the police in retaliation for his investigative journalism about local authorities.The case triggered widespread outrage in Russia, with leading media outlets and public figures demanding a swift probe into suspected police corruption.

Golunov also said police mistreated him while in custody, refusing his right for an attorney and even assaulting him violently. Allegations of brutality further fueled the public outrage over the case.

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