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Former Russian Police Officer Suspected In Illegal Arrest Of Journalist Remanded In Custody

Igor Lyakhovets attends a court hearing in Moscow in January 30.
Igor Lyakhovets attends a court hearing in Moscow in January 30.

A former Russian police officer suspected of ordering the planting of drugs on investigative journalist Ivan Golunov last year has been remanded in custody.

The Moscow City Court on March 11 rejected Igor Lyakhovets' request to transfer him to house arrest or release him on bail.

Lyakhovets and four other former Moscow police officers, Akbar Sergaliyev, Roman Feofanov, Maksim Umetbayev, and Denis Konovalov, were detained on January 29 as suspects in the high-profile case that sparked public outcry in June 2019.

A day later, they were charged with abuse of service duties, falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs.

Konovalov, who is charged with forging documents related to the probe, was transferred to house arrest from a detention center in February after he made a deal with investigators and testified in court that his former superior, Lyakhovets, had ordered him to plant drugs on the reporter.

Earlier on March 11, the Moscow City Court ruled that Maksim Umetbayev will also remain in custody.

Decisions on the appeals by Sergaliyev and Feofanov, who also requested transfer under house arrest or release on bail, are pending.

The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for Latvia-based information outlet Meduza, was arrested in June 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, police officers who detained Golunov were fired along with their supervisor for violating the journalist's rights.

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 western administrative region, over the case.

The 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.

In a very rare move, the prosecutor's office of Moscow's western district apologized to Golunov in February for his illegal prosecution.

With reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Rapsinews
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