Russian Federation drops charges against journalist Golunov, suspends arresting officers

Russian investigative journalist Golunov attends a court hearing in Moscow

"He will be released from house arrest today, the charges have been dropped", he added.

So what is it about Golunov that has caused has caused such a unified cry of protest?

The three newspapers said they welcomed the more lenient pre-trial conditions but said they did not consider the evidence presented by investigators to be convincing.

Russian police on Tuesday abruptly dropped drugs charges against journalist Ivan Golunov, a rare U-turn by the authorities in the face of anger from his supporters who alleged he was framed for his reporting and threatened to stage a mass protest in Moscow.

"This a very bad story", he said.

Golunov, who works for the independent website Meduza, was stopped by police on a Moscow street last Thursday and taken into custody, where his defense team says he was beaten and denied a lawyer for more than 12 hours. "There are many questions that the public must receive clear and intelligible answers to".

Valentina Matviyenko, who is Russia's third most senior official after the president and prime minister, said that the law enforcement agencies' "mistakes and violations ... have given rise to distrust in the investigation".

The criminal case against Golunov had several irregularities.

The decision came after "forensic, biological, fingerprinting and genetic tests", he said.

Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov is now freed, days after he was accused of attempted drug-dealing. Previous tests failed to reveal traces of drugs in either the journalist's urine or on his fingers. 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.

"The extremely unusual behaviour of the police suggests that Ivan Golunov has been arrested on a trumped-up charge", Johann Bihr, the head of RSF's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, told Al Jazeera. They later retracted the statement, saying that the pictures were taken elsewhere. Presenters on Channel One, state media's flagship channel, also demanded a transparent investigation into the case.

It appeared the Kremlin had acted uncharacteristically to limit public discontent over the case before Mr Putin's annual "phone-in" with...

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Putin, said the Kremlin was "carefully monitoring" Golunov's case which, he admitted, had triggered a "great number of questions".

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