Russia’s “record” demonstration against the arrest of the Khabarovsk governor accused of multiple murders


MOSCOW – Thousands of demonstrators protested in the city of Khabarovsk, in the Russian Far East, 6,100 kilometers east of Moscow, against the arrest of the governor Serghej Furgal, 50, accused of being involved in multiple murders. The demonstration had not been authorized, but no arrests were made.Between 5 thousand and 40 thousand people in a city of about 600 thousand inhabitants would have taken to the streets, according to estimates by local media and opponents, chanting slogans such as “Freedom”, “Moscow go away”, “Putin thief” and “Serghej Furgal is ours choice”. Minor marches were also held in other cities in the Khabarovsk region and over 40,000 people signed a petition calling for the release of the governor.
“An absolute record for our region and a demonstration of unique unity in our society”, as anti-corruption blogger and opponent Aleksej Navalnyj called the procession which lasted about four hours. For the local information site, it would have been the “biggest event in Khabarovsk history”.Furgal had been arrested on Thursday 9 July, taken to Moscow where he was interrogated and detained in pre-trial detention the following day at least until September awaiting trial. He faces life imprisonment: he is accused of ordering two murders and an attempted murder of entrepreneurs between 2004 and 2005, when he worked in the metal trade before the start of his political career. Accusations that Furgal “categorically and totally denies,” his lawyer told the agency Friday Tass, and which according to his supporters would have a purely “political” nature.

A member of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (Ldpr), in 2018 Furgal was unexpectedly elected governor of Khabarovsk by getting 70 percent of the votes and defeating the candidate supported by the ruling party in United Russia: a sensational setback for the Kremlin. The LDP party – which is part of the so-called “systemic opposition”, loyal to the Kremlin – has threatened the mass resignation of members of Parliament and regional governors.

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