People Hit the Streets Over Governor's Arrest

Sergei Furgal has been arrested on multiple murder charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2020 11:30 AM CDT
Tens of Thousands Hit the Streets in Russia
People hold posters reading "Freedom for Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal" during an unsanctioned protest in support of Furgal, who was interrogated ordered held in jail for two months, in Khabarovsk, 3,800 miles east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, July 18, 2020.   (AP Photo/Igor Volkov)

Mass rallies rocked the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk again on Saturday, as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest the arrest of the region's governor on charges of involvement in multiple murders, the AP reports. Local media estimated the rally in the city 3,800 miles east of Moscow drew 15,000 to 50,000 people. Hundreds of people have rallied in the city center every day this week against the arrest of Sergei Furgal, reflecting widespread anger over the arrest of the popular governor and a simmering discontent with the Kremlin’s policies. Furgal, the Khabarovsk region governor, was arrested on July 9 and flown to Moscow where he was put in jail for two months. Russia's Investigative Committee says he is suspected of involvement in several murders of businessmen in 2004 and 2005.

Furgal has denied the charges, which relate to his time as a businessman with interests ranging from imports of consumer goods to timber and metals. Khabarovsk residents dismissed the charges against him as unsubstantiated and denounced the Kremlin for targeting a governor they elected. A member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, Furgal was elected governor in 2018, defeating the Kremlin-backed incumbent. During his two years in office, Furgal earned a reputation of "the people's governor." He cut his own salary, ordered the sale of an expensive yacht the previous administration bought, met with protesters when rallies happened, and significantly reduced flight fares for residents in remote areas. (A Russian cop plunged from a window after testifying in a case.)

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