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8 Aug, 2020 12:44

Khabarovsk protests 5 weeks on: Smaller crowds, but thousands still turn out to back ex-Governor Furgal & vent anger at Moscow

Khabarovsk protests 5 weeks on: Smaller crowds, but thousands still turn out to back ex-Governor Furgal & vent anger at Moscow

Residents of Khabarovsk have taken to the streets once again in a continued show of support for former Governor Sergey Furgal, arrested in July on suspicion of ordering two successful murders, and a third failed killing.

Saturday's march marks the 29th day in a row of protests in the largest city in Russia’s Far East, although the number of participants has significantly dropped off since two weeks ago. According to Khabarovsk city authorities,  2,800 attended the rally – far fewer than in July, when local sources estimated tens of thousands of people were out on the streets (while official numbers suggested a little over 10,000).

Furgal, the then-governor of the Khabarovsk Region, representing the far-right LDPR party, was arrested on July 9 on suspicion of ordering three murders, dating back to the 2000s. The politician, who in 2018 beat a candidate from the country's ruling United Russia party, was immediately flown to Moscow, where he's in custody, pending trial.

Many Khabarovsk locals are infuriated that their former governor was lifted by federal forces, and will face the charges over 6,000km away. After gathering at the city's central Lenin Square, Khabarovsk residents marched through the center, shouting “This is our choice!” and “A fair trial in Khabarovsk!” The protesters in Khabarovsk demand that Furgal's case be handled in the region he once represented.

Furgal has remained very popular despite the criminal accusations. On Thursday, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky refused to rule out the possibility that Furgal could be the party's presidential nominee in 2024, if he is found not guilty. The ultra-nationalist LDPR is the third most popular in Russia.  

Also on rt.com Sergey Furgal for President? LDPR leader refuses to rule out choosing ousted Khabarovsk governor as 2024 presidential nominee

On July 20, President Vladimir Putin announced that he was appointing Mikhail Degtyarev, a LDPR MP, as the interim governor. His appointment has further angered some residents of the Khabarovsk Region, who see him as an inexperienced transplant from Moscow with no local knowledge.

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