Five former Moscow police officers have been charged for their roles in the attempted framing of Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov by planting drugs in his backpack and apartment last year.
The Basmanny district court's press service said on January 30 that the former officers of the Moscow narcotics unit were charged with abuse of service duties, falsification of evidence, and illegal handling of drugs.
Denis Konovalov, Akbar Sergaliyev, Roman Feofanov, Maksim Umetbayev, and their former supervisor, Igor Lyakhovets, were detained and questioned on January 29 before being charged.
Feofanov pleaded not guilty, according to an investigator at the court. Pleas for the other officers were yet to be released.
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir on January 29 tweeted that he was following the investigation "with great interest," saying it was "important that perpetrators face justice."
The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for Latvia-based 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 case sparked an investigation into his detainment over the charges and also into why Golunov suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during the ordeal.
In mid-July, three police officers and their supervisor were fired for violating Golunov's rights while detaining him.
After Golunov’s release, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Major General Yury Devyatkin, the head of the Moscow police department's drug-control directorate, and Major General Andrei Puchkov, the police chief in Moscow's West administrative region, over the case.
Authorities announced in November that the case had been classified, a decision harshly criticized by Golunov's lawyers, who called the move an attempt to cover up the "wrongful arrest" of their client.