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‘Learn to read’ Russian state news agency spreads false information about the Golunov case

Source: Meduza
Russian Look / Alamy / Vida Press

On Wednesday, October 7, the Russian state news agency TASS reported that in June 2019, Federal Security Service (FSB) experts allegedly found traces of amphetamines in Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov’s blood samples. TASS cited an unnamed source, “familiar with the materials of the case.”

“There’s a contradiction in Golunov’s examination, which was conducted by FSB experts. The conclusions say that no banned substances were found in his blood, they were only found on his hair. But in the descriptive section of the report it says that there [were] traces of amphetamines in the journalist’s blood,” the source told TASS. 

On Telegram, Golunov’s legal representative, lawyer Sergey Badamshin, called the TASS article “a lie” and suggested that the news agency and its source “learn to read documents.” “Traces of amphetamines were found in the laboratory samples, but there were no amphetamines in Golunov’s blood samples,” Badamshin said.

As evidence, Badamshin provided a screenshot of the FSB report (pictured below). As Ivan Golunov explained on his own Telegram channel, during the examination they used two control samples: one from a person who doesn’t use drugs and one from a person who uses amphetamine. “Found in my blood: caffeine, theobromine, nicotinamide. And amphetamine was found in the control sample,” Golunov wrote. 

“It would be nice if the lawyers of ex-police officer [Igor] Lyakhovets, who organized the drug planting, would learn to read,” Ivan Golunov said. In addition, Lyakhov’s lawyer Alexey Kovrizhkin also called the TASS report incorrect. In conversation with Open Media, Kovrizhkin said that the news agency’s journalists, or those who told them the results of the examination, had studied it inattentively:

“The analysis directly states that no narcotics were found in Golunov’s blood. There were three samples: one sample of Golunov’s blood, one sample [from] a person who doesn’t use narcotics, and a sample marked with amphetamine. Obviously, the experts needed it for testing. And at first glance, one might think that a narcotic was found in Golunov’s blood, but upon careful reading there’s no such thing.”

Experts from the FSB’s Institute of Forensic Sciences’s Center for Specialized Technology conducted the aforementioned testing on June 18, 2019, a week after police officials dropped the criminal prosecution against Ivan Golunov. Lawyer Alexey Kovrizhkin reported the first results of this analysis in February 2020. “Its conclusion is that mephedrone, phenylpentane, and cocaine were found on the outer surface of Golunov’s hair samples,” Kovrizhkin said at the time. In turn, Golunov’s lawyer Sergey Badamshin noted that the traces of the drugs were found not in the hair, but rather on the surface of the hair. He explained that the traces of drugs appeared on Golunov’s hair “as a result of the planned actions of the police officers,” who touched the journalist’s head while he was being forcibly arrested.

Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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