Golunov
© Sputnik / Evgeny Odinokov
Ivan Golunov during a court appearance.
After journalist Ivan Golunov was detained by Moscow police on bogus drug charges, he spent hours demanding a lawyer, but instead was kept awake for hours and harassed by cops, he told RT.

The detention of Golunov last week, and his release days later amid a public outcry, was one of the biggest stories for the Russian journalistic community in recent history. Charged with dealing drugs, he was fully cleared and is now a witness in a law enforcement probe against narcotic police officers, whom he accused of framing him and abusing him while in custody.

In an interview with RT, the investigative journalist said cops were apparently expecting him to fold and admit to a crime he did not commit, but he stood up to them.

"I kept telling them that they had to inform my relatives about the arrest and that I wanted a lawyer. I even told them the name of my lawyer. But they said they wouldn't allow it. No calls," he said. "I was told that I couldn't have any of that, because... I could warn my accomplices and tell them to destroy all the evidence."

He refused to sign any papers, except when police brought him to a clinic - which operates under the Health Ministry rather than Interior Ministry - for drug tests. Golunov said it was his chance to resist.

"You see, whenever I was required to sign anything, I wrote on those papers that I was refused a lawyer, that they refused to inform my relatives of my whereabouts, that I believed the police were acting unlawfully, and that I demanded a different police squad be called in to establish this fact and investigate the situation," he told RT.

Golunov
© Sputnik / Grigoriy Sysoev
Ivan Golunov hugs his dog after his release.
Insisting that his rights were being violated, Golunov would not cooperate with the police in any way. At one point he said he wouldn't move until he sees his lawyer, and the cops allegedly dragged him around in response.

"I said I refuse to go anywhere, and that they could carry me if they liked. I don't see anything particularly wrong with that phrase but it seemed to have irritated one of the policemen greatly, and he hit me in the face twice. I didn't understand why. I didn't cross any lines," he said.

"The police officers attempted to drag me out. I tried to hold on to my seat and other objects, to the staircase railing," he recalled. "They dragged me outside. One of them went to get the car, and the other stepped on my chest and stood like that until the car arrived. Then they grabbed me by my arms and legs and shoved me into the back seat."

His non-cooperation slowed things down, but so did the police officers. Golunov said he spent much time sitting in a police car not far from his home before they started a search. The journalist claims this may have given cops time to plant evidence against him. The delays piled up until 42 hours had passed since Golunov had slept. He said he also refused food and water, afraid they may be laced with drugs to fabricate the case against him.

"I realized that they may have planted things on me and that I must be very careful and focused. So there wasn't much room for emotions, either fear or anger."

"They tried to reason with me, saying I'd better co-operate, that it would be better for me. I tried to stop them, saying it was no use discussing anything about my arrest with me because I would never agree," he said. "So we'd better not talk at all. If they wanted to talk they could talk about the weather."

Golunov
© AFP / Alexander NEMENOV
Moscow, June 12, 2019. Unsanctioned rally to support Ivan Golunov
The sketchy evidence presented by Golunov's accusers and the alleged police brutality resulted in massive public outcry. Three leading Russian newspapers published a joint statement in his support on their frontpages, demanding that the police be investigated for misconduct. A day later, the Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev announced Golunov's full exoneration and suspension of the police officers involved in his arrest. Two Moscow police generals have already been fired over the scandal.

READ RT's full interview with Ivan Golunov here and you can watch the full interview on RT here.