People in the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk have taken to the streets for the 78th consecutive day to protest the arrest in July of the region’s popular former governor.
Crowd estimates for the September 26 rally ranged from some 500 to over 2,000.
Former Khabarovsk Krai Governor Sergei Furgal was arrested on July 9 and taken to Moscow. He faces charges in connection with several killings that happened in the mid-2000s.
In a closed-door hearing, a court in Moscow on September 18 extended Furgal’s pretrial detention to December 9.
Some protesters in Khabarovsk on September 26 chanted "Long live Belarus" in Belarusian.
Belarus has been rocked by mass protests since Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed he won the country's August 9 presidential election despite reports of widespread fraud. Western countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the country's rightful leader.
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 United Russia incumbent. Supporters believe the charges against him were fabricated in a bid to reestablish United Russia’s control over the region.
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.