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Moscow, go away: Why thouthands in Russia's Far East gathered in protest

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Every day since June 11, mass protests are held in the Khabarovsk Krai of the Russian Federation
11:24, 15 July 2020

TASS

On the first day, unauthorized rallies in the region gathered up to 40,000 people, on the second - people stood in the square where the regional government is located until midnight, and on the third - the first detentions took place.

This did not stop the protesters, and judging by the news from the Far East, they are not going to give up their main demand - to release the governor on the eve of the detainee.

 

Arrest for 15-year-old case

Governor of Russian Khabarovsk Krai Sergei Furgal was detained on the morning of July 9 at the entrance of his house when he was about to go to work.

On the same day, the official was transferred by plane to Moscow, where he was formally charged and a preventive measure was taken.

The Investigative Committee said that Furgal was detained on suspicion of organizing the murders of several entrepreneurs in 2004-2005. The media write that this refers to the murder of Oleg Bulatov in 2005, Yevgeniy Zoria in 2004, as well as the assassination attempt on businessman Alexander Smolsky.

The investigators also check Furgal for involvement in other particularly serious crimes committed in the Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories, as well as in the Amur Region. In addition to him, four more people were detained, whom the investigation considers members of a criminal group.

July 10, Moscow Court on arrested Furgal for two months - until September 9.

The governor does not admit his guilt. His lawyers announced their intention to appeal the decision of the court.

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"People’s Governor"

Sergey Furgal heads the Khabarovsk Krai for almost two years. He received the support of 70% of voters in the elections in the fall of 2018, thus circumventing candidates from the United Russia party Vyacheslav Shport.

Kommersant

Shport has been the irreplaceable head of the Khabarovsk Krai since 2009. In turn, Furgal was called a "technical" candidate, because of which his victory, and even with such a large margin, came as a surprise to the authorities.

"The Kremlin did not forgive Furgal for violating the agreements on the 2018 election - the future governor was assigned the role of a" technical "candidate, who was supposed to cede the race to power candidate Vyacheslav Shport," BBC writes, citing experts and a source in the presidential administration.

After the victory, Furgal was called the "people's governor." At his post, he was remembered for a reduction in wages and other expenses for officials.

Related: Protests against detention of governor of Khabarovsk Region in Russia

Here is how the professor of the Pacific State University, Ildus Yarulin, described the attitude of Khabarovsk residents to their governor:

"This is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch. He promises a lot of things, meets with everyone. Let him do little, but at least he has not succumbed to stardom. You can approach him, talk, he will record. He is his own, Far East."

According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Furgal is its member, the arrest of the governor is connected with the fears of the authorities because of his high rating in the region.

"Why they removed him - they still don’t tell the truth. According to closed polls, he is one of the five most popular governors of the country," the Echo of Moscow cites him.

Open source

The LDPR leader also linked Furgal’s arrest with his alleged reluctance to bring “boxes of money” to Moscow. The Znak.com news agency, citing Zhirinovsky’s words, writes that the former head of the apparatus of the ex-governor of the Khabarovsk Krai Vyacheslav Shport turned to Furgal with a request “to take a box to Moscow (with money - ed.)”.

The Kremlin said that they could not respond to the words of the politician, not knowing exactly who demanded a bribe from the governor.

rbc.ru

To respond to these words, you need to know who demanded to carry bags or boxes of money to Moscow,” Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Related: Peaceful protest in Belgrade escalated into mass brawl: 71 people detained

Protests in support of the Governor

The day after the arrest of Furgal, on July 11, protests began in Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, Amursk and in the regional centers of the region.

Kommersant

According to media reports, up to 40 thousand people gathered there, although the Ministry of Internal Affairs counted only 10-12,000. They have already dubbed the Saturday rally the most massive in the history of Khabarovsk.

People chanted “Putin is the thief”, “Putin to resign”, “Moscow, go away!”, “Freedom to Furgal!”, “Give our governor away!”

Protesters believe that the allegations against Furgal are far-fetched and falsified. They also demand the return of the governor to Khabarovsk in order to conduct an objective investigation.

On the second day, July 12, there were noticeably fewer people on the streets, but the protests lasted until late at night. Local media estimated stated that 1-3,000 people came to the protest.

Law enforcement officers were in place, but there were no reports of detentions or dispersal during the day.

Around 23:00, people gathered under the regional government building. The rally was calm, although, according to the local newspaper Dvnovosti.ru, there were quite a few drunk people in the crowd.

After midnight, it became known about the first detentions. As Interfax reported, four young people were brought to the site, one of whom was drunk.

On the morning of July 13, an appeal appeared on the government’s website in which authorities called on the protesters to prevent riots.

"We urge all residents of the region - do not let yourself be used! You can’t allow riots, clashes with law enforcement agencies. If you are against lawlessness, do not break the law yourself! We remind you that all mass actions are unauthorized ... Do not give in to provocations even with the best of intentions, express your civil position in a civilized manner and within the framework of the law!" the message reads.

Authorities also drew attention to the increase in the incidence of Covid-19 coronavirus in the region and recalled that large crowds are one of the main foci of the spread of infection.

About 1,000 people gathered at the government building in Khabarovsk yesterday. On that day, rallies were also held in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

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Further scenarios

The decree on the resignation of Sergei Furgal and the appointment of the interim head of the Khabarovsk Territory as of the morning of July 14 was not signed. According to Kommersant, this could happen before the end of the week.

Kommersant

Sources of the outlet explained that the process has slowed down due to the problem of finding candidates for the relevant position: now the Kremlin is considering at least five candidates for Furgal's place.

"Experts believe that the Kremlin can wait a while to make a decision in order to find a suitable candidate for the head of the region, which will be able to quench protests in the region," Kommersant writes.

At the same time, the LDPR believes that if a decree on the resignation of the current head of the Khabarovsk Territory is nevertheless signed, then a party representative should replace him.

Related: Detentions, protests, angry Lukashenko: Three features of election campaign in Belarus

At the moment, according to RBC, the faction has decided on three candidates: the chairman of the State Duma committee on sports, Mikhail Degtyarev, the head of the Duma committee on economics and entrepreneurship Sergey Zhigarev and deputy Andrei Andreichenko.

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