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Protesters In Russia's Far East Chant 'Belarus, We Are With You!'

People carry a banner reading "Return Furgal to us" during a rally in support of Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk on August 8.
People carry a banner reading "Return Furgal to us" during a rally in support of Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk on August 8.

KHABAROVSK, Russia -- Protesters in Russia's Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk , where rallies against President Vladimir Putin's role in a regional political crisis have been going on for almost a month, have voiced their support for demonstrations against the presidential vote in Belarus.

More than 80 protesters shouted "Belarus, we are with you!" as they marched through Khabarovsk on August 10.

Police in Belarus said on August 10 that they detained about 3,000 protesters overnight during demonstrations against preliminary results of the August 9 presidential election naming incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka the winner.

In Khabarovsk, the protesters also demanded the immediate release of Sergei Furgal, the former governor of the Khaborovsk region whose arrest prompted the protests there.

A member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Furgal was elected by a wide margin in 2018 over the incumbent candidate from Putin's ruling United Russia party.

Furgal was arrested on July 9 and transferred to a jail in Moscow for what authorities said was suspicion of involvement in several murders in 2004 and 2005.

Furgal was then dismissed by Putin, who appointed LDPR member Mikhail Degtyaryov as the region's acting governor.

Furgal's supporters say the charges against him are politically motivated retribution for his 2018 election defeat of Putin's ally.

The Kremlin says Furgal has serious charges to answer.

The protests highlight growing discontent in the Far East over what demonstrators see as Moscow-dominated policies that often neglect their views and interests.

'We Have The Same Ideals': Protesters In Russia's Far East And Belarus Feel A Connection
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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.

The pro-Furgal demonstrations have attracted tens of thousands of protesters on weekends since they started on July 11.

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