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Russian Ex-Police Officer In High-Profile Golunov Case Transferred To House Arrest

Former Russian police officer Denis Konovalov, at a court hearing in Moscow on February 26.
Former Russian police officer Denis Konovalov, at a court hearing in Moscow on February 26.

A former Russian police officer who testified against his ex-supervisor in a high-profile case on planting drugs on investigative journalist Ivan Golunov last year has been transferred to house arrest.

The Basmanny district court ruled on February 26 that Denis Konovalov, who is charged with forging documents related to the probe against Golunov that sparked public outrage in June, can be transferred to house arrest from his current incarceration at a detention center.

Konovalov made a deal with investigators and testified in court earlier in February that his former boss, Igor Lyakhovets, had ordered him to plant drugs on the reporter. Lyakhovets is also on trial.

Konovalov's lawyer, Sergei Badamshin, and the prosecutors supported the investigators' recommendation of the transfer.

Konovalov, Lyakhovets, and three other former Moscow police officers, Akbar Sergaliyev, Roman Feofanov, and Maksim Umetbayev, were detained on January 29.

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

The 37-year-old Golunov, who works for the Latvia-based 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 detention 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 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.

In a very rare move, the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow's Western District apologized to Golunov in February for his illegal prosecution.

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