Russian Supreme Court Rejects Appeals By Former Moscow Policemen Over Golunov Arrest

Russia's Supreme Court has rejected the appeals of four former Moscow police officers against prison terms they were handed for the 2019 arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov on trumped-up drug charges.

The court pronounced its decision on October 11 in the high-profile case, which sparked numerous rallies and protests across Russia in support of Golunov.

Former police officers Roman Feofanov, Akbar Sergaliyev, Maksim Umetbayev, and Igor Lyakhovets, who were handed prison terms of between eight years and 12 years in May 2021 on charges of abuse of service duties, the falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs, have insisted they are innocent.

A fifth former police officer in the case, Denis Konovalov, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years in prison. All of the prison terms were later cut by several months.

The five former police officers were also ordered to pay Golunov 1 million rubles ($15,900) each in compensation.

The 39-year-old Golunov, who works for the Latvian-based information outlet 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 journalist suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during his detention.

The police officers who detained Golunov were arrested in January 2020. The head of the Moscow police department's drug control directorate and the police chief in Moscow's Western administrative region were fired over the case.

In a rare move, the prosecutor's office of Moscow's western district apologized to Golunov in February 2020 for his illegal prosecution.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax