Russians Demonstrate Against Kremlin Over Arrest Of Regional Governor, Putin Policies

Russians Demonstrate Against Kremlin Over Arrest Of Regional Governor, Putin Policies

The local support for Furgal has been strong despite Russia's Investigative Committee saying it has witness accounts and other "irrefutable evidence" that Furgal was "involved in organizing murders and attempted murders of" rival entrepreneurs Yevgeny Zorya, Oleg Bulatov and Alexander Smolsky in 2004 and 2005, the committee's spokeswoman, Svetlana Petrenko, told the Interfax news agency.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed into Khabarovsk on Saturday afternoon, carrying posters supporting Furgal in the second week of the protests.

An estimated 15,000 to 50,000 demonstrators took part in the almost five-hour rally, according to reports, although police gave no official crowd estimate.

Furgal has denied any wrongdoing, and his supporters have alleged that the case against him is politically motivated - revenge for how Furgal won the 2018 gubernatorial election in a landslide against the candidate from Putin's ruling party, United Russia.

She said that many Russian politicians have a dark past, as the final years of the Soviet Union were riddled with corruption and crime. The protests against the arrest of Furgal have taken place every day this week, with hundreds of people rallying in the city center every day, and reflected widespread anger over the arrest of the popular governor and a simmering discontent with the Kremlin's policies.

The arrest sparked off a wave of protests in the region. "He's our governor! And we will defend him", they shouted.

The huge rallies in the city of Khabarovsk on the border with China present a growing headache for the Kremlin, observers say, and come after President Vladimir Putin this month oversaw a controversial vote that allows him to extend his hold on power until 2036. "We don't want Sergei Ivanovich to be taken away", said Gennady Yakovlev, using Furgal's first name and patronymic.

During his two years in office, Furgal has earned a reputation of being "the people's governor". As with previous protests, the rally was not approved by the authorities, but police made no moves to disperse it. Russia's main opposition leader Alexei Navalny cheered the protests and posted a message on social media site Instagram heralding the city of Khabarovsk for refusing to "believe Putin's endless lies about the "justice" of his courts and the "honesty" of his elections".

In a statement released Saturday, the Khabarovsk government said that in an "unauthorised rally", over 10,000 took part, "30 percent less than last weekend". Then, according to various estimates, from 10,000 to 40,000 people joined the protests.

But some local news outlets have estimated that the number attending the demonstrations was significantly higher.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that the situation in Khabarovsk was "not standard".

Khabarovsk is located roughly 4,000 miles east of Moscow. Moscow has not yet appointed an acting governor 11 days after Furgal's arrest.

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