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Local Russian Official's Arrest Sparks Mass Protest


Locals protest against the arrest of the head of the Engels municipal district.

Locals protest against the arrest of the head of the Engels municipal district.

ENGELS, Russia -- At least 1,000 residents in the southwestern Russian town of Engels have protested the arrest of the municipal district head, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Mikhail Lysenko was arrested 10 days ago for his alleged involvement in a murder in 1998. He was formally charged on December 6.

Protesters gathered in Engel's central square, even though local authorities denied permission for the demonstration.

Police detained protest organizer Taisia Mororets.

The demonstrators, who included representatives of local public and nongovernmental organizations, say Lysenko's arrest is politically motivated.

They describe him as the only local leader in recent years who has managed to establish order and bring stability to the region.

The protesters say Lysenko's arrest is connected with local elections due to be held in March. They vowed to continue the protests until he is released from custody.

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