(KHABAROVSK, Russia) — Tens of thousands of people marched Saturday across the Russian city of Khabarovsk on the border with China to protest the arrest of the regional governor on murder charges, continuing a wave of protests that has lasted for two weeks in a challenge to the Kremlin.
Sergei Furgal has been in a Moscow jail since his arrest on July 9, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has named an acting successor. Protesters in Khabarovsk see the charges against Furgal as unsubstantiated and demand that he stand trial at home.
“People are offended,” said Dmitry Kachalin, one of the protesters. “I think people take to the streets because their vote in the 2018 election was taken away.”
Unlike Moscow, where police usually move quickly to disperse unsanctioned opposition protests, authorities haven’t interfered with unauthorized demonstrations in Khabarovsk, apparently expecting them to fizzle out over time.
But daily protests, peaking at weekends, have gone on for two weeks, reflecting anger against what local residents see as Moscow’s disrespect of their choice and simmering discontent with Putin’s rule. Local officials’ attempts to discourage people from joining the demonstrations by warning about the risk of coronavirus infection have been unsuccessful.
“We had enough,” said protester Anastasia Schegorina. “We elected the governor and we want to be heard and decide ourselves what to do with him. Bring him here, and a fair and open trial will decide whether to convict him or not.”
Authorities suspect Furgal of involvement in several murders of businessmen in 2004 and 2005. He has denied the charges, which date back to his time as a businessman with interests focusing on timber and metals.
A lawmaker on the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party ticket, Furgal won the 2018 gubernatorial election even though he had refrained from campaigning and publicly supported his Kremlin-backed rival.
His victory was a …read more
Source:: Time – World