Protests continue in Russia's Far East demanding fair trial for 'people's governor'

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By Louise Miner  with AP
Protests continue in Russia's Far East demanding fair trial for 'people's governor'
Copyright  AP Photo/Igor Volkov

Protests are continuing in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia's Far East calling for a fair trial of a popular former regional governor.

Sergei Furgal, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was arrested two weeks ago for his suspected involvement in several murders of businessmen in 2004 and 2005, according to Russia's Investigative Committee.

The fifty-year-old has now been jailed in Moscow for two months. Furgal denies the allegations.

Demonstrators are demanding he faces charges in his hometown rather than in the Russian capital.

A new acting governor, Mikhail Degtyaryov, who is from the same party as Furgal, has been appointed and is now looking to calm the situation.

President Vladimir Putin, who has yet to comment on the protests, could see these demonstrations as a local problem rather than a national one and not step in, according to experts.

Furgal, who was elected as mayor of Khabarovsk in 2018 after defeating the incumbent who was backed by the Kremlin, was dubbed the "people's governor" after taking office. His election was a humiliating blow for Putin's United Russia party, which has been losing seats in regional administrations over the last few years.

Protests have been taking place in the city, which is 3,800 miles east of the capital Moscow, for the last three weekends, with an estimated 35,000 people attending the last protest on July 18.