Russian investigative journalist accused of drug trafficking is under house arrest

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The journalist, also placed under judicial control, is required to stay at his home until August 7, the time to prepare his trial.

The Russian investigative journalist arrested on Thursday and charged with "attempted drug trafficking" on Friday was released under judicial supervision and placed under house arrest on Saturday by a Moscow court. The latter is in force until August 7, but it can be extended, as is often the case for the preparation of trials.

The decision was greeted by shouts of joy from hundreds of people gathered around the Moscow court of Nikulinski to support him, while many feared that Ivan Golounov, an independent online media reporter from Meduza, would be kept in prison.

"I never thought I would attend my own funeral"

The journalist appeared very marked arriving Saturday night in court after a visit to the hospital where he had been transported after complaining of "feeling bad" during his detention. "It's all like cinema, I never thought I would attend my own funeral," he said. Later, he had tears in his eyes when the judge made his decision.

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He is accused of trying to sell "a significant amount" of cocaine and mephedrone, a synthetic drug. According to the police, four grams of mephedrone were found in his backpack at the time of his arrest, and much larger quantities during a search of his apartment.

The Russian police also published several photos presented as coming from the scene of the crime and showing a real workshop of manufacture of drug, before recognizing that they had not been taken at the journalist, which reinforced the suspicions of handling.

His colleagues and human rights defenders do not believe in the guilt of the journalist. According to the patron of Meduza, Galina Timchenko, Ivan Golunov received almost daily death threats. He told the judge that the charges against him were related to his investigations into mafia-like sharing of the "cemetery business" in Moscow.

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