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Moscow Prosecutor Offers Apologies To Journalist Golunov For False Prosecution

Ivan Golunov was arrested in June 2019.

The prosecutor's office of Moscow's Western district has apologized to Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov for his illegal prosecution, in a case that has embarrassed the city's police department.

"The prosecutor's office of the Western administrative district of Moscow has sent journalist Ivan Golunov an official apology in connection with his unreasonable criminal prosecution," the office said in a statement on February 5.

The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based online news outlet Meduza, was arrested in June last year in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs. The charges were later dropped and police officers involved in his arrest were themselves arrested last week.

In late January, Golunov filed a complaint with newly appointed Prosecutor-General Igor Krasnov saying that nobody had apologized for his wrongful arrest last year.

Golunov's lawyer, Sergei Badamshin, said on February 4 that the Prosecutor-General's Office had refused to apologize directly to his client and ordered a lower entity to do so.

Interfax quoted Golunov as saying on February 5 that he had not received any apology over the case.

“I haven’t received anything yet. But it’s rather strange that the press service first sends a press release. They could call and spend three minutes talking with me and then send out a press release," Golunov told Interfax.

On January 30, a Moscow court said that five former officers of the Moscow drug enforcement unit who arrested Golunov were placed in pretrial detention after they were charged with abuse of service duties, falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs.

Golunov's arrest last year sparked a public outcry. Moscow authorities released him and launched 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.

With reporting by Interfax and RIA Novosti