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Protests Continue in Khabarovsk, Russia, Against Arrest and Replacement of Popular Regional Governor

People hold posters supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal, during an unsanctioned protest in support of Sergei Furgal, who was interrogated and ordered to be held in jail for two months, in Khabarovsk, Russia, July 25, 2020.

Protesters took to the streets of the Russian city of Khabarovsk for the fourth straight weekend on Saturday, angered by the arrest of the region’s popular governor.

Sergey Furgal was arrested by federal law enforcement in early July on charges related to multiple murders in 2004 and 2005, before he became governor. He was flown to Moscow where he was ordered jailed for two months.

Many people in Russia’s Far Eastern city on the border with China believe the charges leveled against Furgal, and his replacement last week, are politically motivated. Furgal was elected in 2018, defeating a candidate from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia.

"What is happening to our governor Sergey Furgal is injustice and the violation of all conceivable human rights, and I can't remain indifferent to this," said protester Natalia Smoktunova.

Other protesters expressed their indignation with the falling standards of living.

"We've become fed up with this kind of life,” said Tatiana, another protester, who didn’t give her last name. “We want our children to have everything they need—good schools and a better life, instead of poverty-level salaries and unemployment."

The Kremlin replaced Furgal with a young State Duma deputy, Mikhail Degtiarev, to serve as acting governor of the Khabarovsk region.

"Wonderful people live here (in Khabarovsk),” said pensioner protester Nadezhda Svobodnaya. “They're hard workers who want to work honestly and live with dignity, without being afraid for the future of our children and grandchildren. But everything is being trampled here: dignity and honor and freedom. We live in a civilized world after all. How much longer can we bear this?"

Protests in Khabarovsk, a city about 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow, erupted on July 11. Since then, protesters have been demanding the release of Furgal and an open and fair trial for him.