Huge crowds took to the streets of the Russian city of Khabarovsk on Saturday, angered by the arrest of the region’s popular governor, replaced this week by a Kremlin appointee who had never lived in the region.
Protesters were holding posters reading "Give us back Sergei Furgal, people's governor" during an unsanctioned protest in the Far East city near the border with China, 6,100 kilometers east of Russian capital, Moscow.
Journalists reporting from Khabarovsk, seven time zones east of Moscow, said Saturday's rally was the largest since the demonstrations began this month.
The governor was arrested by federal law enforcement earlier this month on charges related to multiple murders in 2004 and 2005. He was flown to Moscow, where he was ordered jailed for two months.
Furgal, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has denied the charges.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has said Furgal was suspected of involvement in several murders of businessmen before his political career began.
The protesters, however, believe the charges leveled against him are politically motivated.
Furgal was elected governor in 2018. His unexpected victory was seen as a challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s policies and the main Kremlin party, United Russia.