MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. A decision has been made to drop a criminal case against journalist Ivan Golunov for a lack of evidence proving his involvement, Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told reporters on Tuesday.
"Following biological, forensic, fingerprints and genetic tests, a decision has been made to drop a criminal case against journalist Ivan Golunov for lack of evidence proving his involvement in the crime in question. He will be released from house arrest today, charges against him will be dropped," Kolokoltsev said.
He added that files related to the ministry’s internal probe had been submitted to the Investigative Committee that would assess the legitimacy of actions taken by police officers involved in Golunov’s detention. For now, they have been suspended from duty.
"I have decided to ask the Russian president to dismiss Head of the Interior Ministry’s branch in the Western Administrative District of Moscow Police Major General Andrei Puchkov and Head of the Drug Control Department of the Interior Ministry’s Moscow branch Police Major General Yuri Devyatkin," Kolokoltsev added.
"I believe that the rights of every citizen must be protected regardless of his or her profession," the interior ministry pointed out.
On June 6, Ivan Golunov, who works for the Meduza news website, was hauled off in downtown Moscow and taken to a local police station on charges of illegally producing, selling and transporting drugs. According to police, Golunov was carrying four grams of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant drug, while five grams of cocaine were found during a search of his rented apartment. Moscow’s Nikulinsky District Court placed the journalist under house arrest.
Golunov’s lawyer Dmitry Dzhulai said earlier that drugs could have been planted on his client. Meduza Director General Galina Timchenko and Chief Editor Ivan Kolpakov said that Golunov’s journalistic activities might be the true reason behind drug charges.
"Following biological, forensic, fingerprint and genetic tests, a decision has been made to drop the criminal case against journalist Ivan Golunov for lack of evidence proving his involvement in the crime in question. He will be released from house arrest today, and the charges against him will be dropped," Kolokoltsev said.
The Russian Interior Ministry has sent to the Investigative Committee materials of internal investigation into the actions of its officers who detained Golunov.
He said materials of the probe had been sent "to assess the lawfulness of actions by the police officers who detained Golunov. "They have been suspended from their official duties for the period of the checks," the minister said.