The Moscow City Court has upheld the extension of the pretrial arrest of Sergei Furgal, the former governor of the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Krai region, who is charged with attempted murder and ordering two killings in 2004-2005, as his supporters continue to rally in the city of Khabarovsk.
The September 18 court session that approved the Basmanny district court's decision to prolong Furgal's pretrial arrest until December 9 was held behind closed doors.
Furgal, who took part in the hearing via a video link from the Lefortovo detention center, reiterated his innocence, calling the case against him "a persecution" and demanding all hearings in his case be open for the public.
"I am outraged that all the hearings in my case are being held in a closed regime. I do not have anything to hide, but it looks like investigators have. I want everyone to know that I am being persecuted," Furgal said.
Furgal, of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was elected in 2018 in a runoff that he won handily against the region’s longtime incumbent of the ruling United Russia party.
His arrest on July 9 sparked mass protests in the Khabarovsk Krai's capital, Khabarovsk, and several other towns and cities in the region by his supporters that have been held almost daily since then.
The protests highlight growing discontent in the Far East over what demonstrators see as Moscow-dominated policies that often neglect their views and interests.
President Vladimir Putin's popularity has been declining as the Kremlin tries to deal with an economy suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and years of ongoing international sanctions.