Opposition deputy Maxim Reznik detained on drug charges in St. Petersburg

Sergey Konkov / TASS

On June 17, investigators in St. Petersburg detained local legislator Maxim Reznik on drug charges. According to the investigation, the opposition deputy allegedly purchased several grams of marijuana for personal use. If found guilty of drug possession, he will face up to three years in prison. Investigators pressed charges against Reznik in connection with a criminal case against a relative of his, who was allegedly pressured to testify against him. What’s more, investigators arrested Reznik the day after the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly announced the date for September’s elections to the city parliament. Reznik announced plans to run for re-election back in May. 

On June 17, the Russian Investigative Committee detained Maxim Reznik, an opposition deputy on the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, for 48 hours on drug charges. According to the investigation, no later than March 9, 2021, Reznik bought 18.2 grams (0.64 ounces) of marijuana “for personal consumption” from an unidentified individual in St. Petersburg. The local legislator was charged with illegal drug trafficking without intention to sell under Criminal Code article 228. He now faces up to three years in prison. According to the local newspaper Fontanka, Reznik denies the charges. 

State investigators filed charges against Reznik after investigating his distant relative, Ivan Dorofeev. The criminal case against Dorofeev was opened on charges of the attempted illegal production, sale, or shipment of narcotics.

“Maxim Reznik was detained as a suspect in the criminal case against [Ivan] Dorofeev. All of the investigative actions are postponed until tomorrow. Today the deputy will be taken to a [temporary detention facility]. Presumably the investigators will go to court tomorrow with a petition to select preventive measures.”  

On March 9, police officials carried out a search at a studio on St. Petersburg’s Griboyedov Canal where Dorofeev lived. Rezik was there at the time; he had stopped by to discuss family matters. During the raid on Dorofeev’s home, the officers found “chewing gum containers with narcotic substances,” as well as “bushes that look like the raw material for a drug,” Fontanka reported. According to the newspaper, the attesting witnesses and the operatives claimed that Reznik brought the container of drugs with him, and that his fingerprints were found on it.

Dorofeev’s mother stated that the investigators pressured her son, demanding that he testify against Reznik. In turn, the deputy said that he brought a container of sweets with him at Dorofeev’s request. Dorofeev initially claimed that Reznik had brought the containers, then he spoke about pressure from law enforcement. Later, he said he didn’t remember anything. Reznik was summoned for questioning three times. On June 17, law enforcement searched his home, after which the deputy was taken in for yet another interrogation and detained.

Reznik was arrested the day after the date was set for the upcoming elections to the St. Petersburg parliament. At a meeting of the city’s Legislative Assembly on June 16, it was announced that elections to the municipal parliament would take place on September 19. Reznik was planning to run in the elections — he made his announcement on May 20. “We have a particularly difficult battle this year and we can’t do it without you,” he said when announcing his campaign.

Previously, Maxim Reznik faced harassment from media outlets associated with catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin. After the police harshly detained more than 60 opposition figures during a May 1 demonstration in St. Petersburg in 2019, the Prigozhin-linked Federal News Agency (FAN), along with other outlets, began writing articles alleging that Reznik was under the influence of drugs, without providing any evidence to back up these claims. When law enforcement raided Ivan Dorofeev’s home in March 2021, these same outlets reported that Reznik had been detained at a drug lab.

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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