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Russian journalist charged with bid to deal ‘large amount’ of drugs: lawyer

June 8, 2019

Russian police have charged an investigative journalist with attempting to deal a “large amount” of illegal drugs, his lawyer said Saturday.

“Ivan Golunov has been charged as a defendant — attempted dealing,” his lawyer Pavel Chikov wrote on Telegram messenger service.

Golunov, a reporter for Meduza independent news website, was detained on Thursday for possession of five packages of mephedrone, a designer drug, Moscow police said, later adding they found cocaine at his flat.

Supporters say the charge is a trumped-up punishment for his reporting on high-level corruption.

Chikov, a top rights lawyer, posted a police document showing the charge against the journalist involves a “large amount” of cocaine and mephedrone, which means he could face a lengthy jail sentence if found guilty.

Golunov was set to face a court hearing later Saturday where a judge would rule whether to hold him in pre-trial detention, place him under house arrest or set him free.

Journalists were waiting to enter the court building on Saturday afternoon.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.