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Police detain a protester following a scuffle during a rally in Khabarovsk on July 26.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the Russian Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk on July 26 to demand the release and return of the region's governor.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the Russian Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk on July 26 to demand the release and return of the region's governor.

Sergei Furgal is now in jail in Moscow on charges of attempted murder and ordering two contract killings some 15 years ago. Supporters say the charges are politically motivated. Furgal, who denies the allegations, beat a pro-Kremlin candidate in an election nearly two years ago.

Demonstrations have rocked the city of 600,000 for more than two weeks and have grown to include calls for the resignation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On July 25, a crowd estimated at up to 50,000 turned out despite officials urging people to stay away due to concerns over the coronavirus. Officials put the turnout on July 25 at some 6,500.

The man appointed by Putin to replace Furgal addressed protesters for the first time in public on July 26.

Mikhail Degtyaryov, the newly appointed governor of Khabarovsk (file photo)
Mikhail Degtyaryov, the newly appointed governor of Khabarovsk (file photo)

As the demonstration was ending, Mikhail Degtyaryov told a small group that a council would be created to allow the protesters to communicate with him on the Furgal matter.

Degtyarov said he thinks any proceedings against Furgal should be open to the public.

"If there is undeniable evidence, then the people should be allowed to see it," he said.

After Degtyaryov left, a scuffle took place on the square where he had addressed the crowd. Police detained one activist.

Degtyarov is a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, as is Furgal, but he has never lived in Khabarovsk.

Such sustained demonstrations are unusual for Russia's regions, as is the fact that the authorities have not yet moved to break them up.

They follow on the heels of a controversial nationwide vote that set the stage for Putin to remain in power until 2036. The protests have unnerved Moscow.

Khabarovsk Krai residents overwhelmingly voted for Furgal in the 2018 gubernatorial elections. His surprise victory was a blow to the ruling United Russia party.

Furgal, who was arrested in Khabarovsk on July 9 and transferred to Moscow, is charged with attempted murder and ordering two murders in 2004-2005. He denies the allegations.

With reporting by dpa
The United Democrats released this picture of a police raid on their Kazan headquarters.

Russian special forces on July 25 raided the headquarters of the United Democrats movement in the Tatarstan capital Kazan during a seminar on corruption.

Russian special forces on July 25 raided the headquarters of the United Democrats movement in the Tatarstan capital Kazan during a seminar on corruption.

The movement, which aims to help independent candidates in municipal elections, said masked police with machine guns stormed its headquarters in the city.

In total, 16 detainees were taken to a police station. Among them was Yekaterina Petrova, the head of the Yekaterinburg branch of the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Petrova had been giving a seminar on how to investigate corruption in public and municipal procurement.

Transparency International said the detainees were interrogated and questioned about knowingly false reporting about an act of terrorism.

After the interrogation, all the detainees were released.

United Democrats was formed to provide assistance to independent candidates in local elections, where the movement believes the best impact on citizens’ lives can be made.

This September they aim to have candidates for municipal elections in four Russian regions, including Tatarstan.

Earlier in July, police in Kazan detained six people at the headquarters of the United Democrats and took them to a police station for drug and alcohol testing.

With reporting by AFP and Meduza


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