Ex-Russian Officer Tells Court He Was Ordered To Plant Drugs On Reporter

A former Russian police officer told a court his superior ordered him to plant drugs on investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, whose arrest last summer sparked outrage.

Denis Konovalov, who was fired in connection with his arrest on fabricating drug charges against Golunov, admitted he framed the journalist but said he did so at the behest of Igor Lyakhovets, who is also on trial.

Aleksei Kovrizhkin, Lyazovets’ lawyer, said his client is innocent and that prosecutors are pressuring Konovalov.

“Judging by his look, he is very despondent. I don’t know what path they found to him, but he is broken,” Kovrizhkin told Open Media.

Lyazovets claims he was on vacation when Golunov was arrested, but said his subordinates consulted with him by phone about the case.

Golunov was arrested on June 6 in Moscow on charges of attempting to sell a large amount of illegal drugs just as he was preparing to publish an investigation about corruption in the nation’s funeral industry.

The fabricated arrest quickly unraveled after police posted photos of drug paraphernalia supposedly from inside Golunov’s home.

Journalists and friends who had been to Golunov’s residence quickly recognized the photos were fake and began staging pickets.

He was released from house arrest on June 11 after the country’s interior minister announced that criminal charges against him would be dropped and a day before his supporters planned a protest.