A joint investigation by Meduza and Important Stories revealed the secret scheme of the work of the capital's police officers who are investigating drug trafficking. To do this, the investigators had to examine all the documents included in the Moscow City Court database.
In total, the journalists analyzed 56,860 documents on 12 drug-related articles. As a result, the journalists found 142 people who regularly collaborated with the police as attesting witnesses.
“We analyzed tens of thousands of sentences and found more than 140 'regular' witnesses in Moscow alone - just acquaintances of operatives, drug addicts or people who had previously been convicted. Police officers regularly used these people to fabricate criminal cases, and the defendants in these cases were sent to jail by the judges for many years, despite the protests of lawyers”, - the investigators said.
According to the law, people who are not interested in the course of the investigation must be attested during operational activities. Minors, participants in criminal proceedings and their relatives, as well as operatives and investigators of the Ministry of Internal Affairs cannot be involved as attesting witnesses.
The journalists discovered a real hotbed of false witnesses in the cases related to the Internal Affairs Directorate for the Western Administrative District, whose officers detained Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov. There were 18 such people in drug dealing alone. Another 13 "witnesses on a salary" were identified by the journalists at the Internal Affairs Directorate for the Eastern Administrative District. By a strange coincidence, it was these departments that "declared" in the fabrication of criminal cases.
Lawyers have repeatedly drawn the attention of judges to the fact that acquaintances of operatives, drug addicts or people with a criminal record are used as “dummy attesting witnesses” in cases. However, despite this, the judges turned a blind eye to what was happening and sent the accused to jail for many years. With such a scheme, the investigators got the impression that, on the false accusation of drug crimes, "anyone can be imprisoned in Russia".
Perhaps the only "happy exception" to this vicious practice was the case of journalist Ivan Golunov, who was planted with drugs by operatives in 2019. Under pressure from the public, the case against Golunov was dropped, and criminal proceedings were instituted against the falsifiers. During the trial, information about the "witnesses on the salary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs" who received cash for their presence at operational events was revealed over them. The journalists learned about the police chat, where people were offered to "earn extra money" as witnesses.