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Thousands in Russia protest for 3rd week over arrest of governor

CA, 01 Aug 2020
Protests in support of detained Khabarovsk governor Sergei Furgal were held in cities across Russia on Saturday.

A number of protesters in the cities of St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Moscow were detained by police.

The wave of protests across Russia comes as thousands of people marched in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk on Saturday for the fourth weekend in a row, protesting against President Vladimir Putin's handling of a local political crisis.

Residents of Khabarovsk, around 6,110 km and seven time zones east of Moscow, are unhappy about the July 9 detention of the wider region's popular regional governor, Furgal, who was arrested on murder charges he denies.

His detention, which his supporters say was politically motivated, has triggered weeks of street protests, creating a headache for the Kremlin which is trying to troubleshoot a sharp COVID-19-induced drop in real incomes and keep a lid on unrest as the economy stutters.

Supporters of Furgal, a member of the nationalist LDPR party, feel he is being belatedly punished for defeating a candidate from the ruling pro-Putin United Russia party in 2018. The Kremlin says Furgal has serious charges to answer.

Such sustained demonstrations are unusual for Russia's regions, as is the fact that the authorities have not yet moved to break them up.

Putin has named a new acting governor, but protesters say he has no connection with the region and have called on him to step down too.


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