MOSCOW -- The jailed former governor of Russia's Far Eastern region of Khabarovsk Krai, Sergei Furgal, whose arrest in July sparked unprecedented protests, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Furgal's lawyer, Mikhail Karapetyan, said on April 7 that his client was tested the previous day in Moscow’s Lefortovo detention center, where he is currently held after being charged in 2020 with being involved in several murders that took place more than 10 years ago.
He and his supporters reject the charges, calling the case politically motivated. He was dismissed from the post after his arrest.
"The defense team is very much concerned about the illness because, as Furgal himself has said, he has problems with his lungs and fears that the illness may cause complications," Karapetyan said, adding that his client is currently in a two-week quarantine and therefore will be unable to meet with his lawyers.
According to Karapetyan, a motion has been filed demanding investigators allow Furgal to be released from pretrial detention due to the illness.
The 51-year-old Furgal was elected in 2018 in a runoff that he won handily against the region’s longtime incumbent from the ruling United Russia party.
His arrest on July 9 sparked mass protests in Khabarovsk and several other towns and cities in the region by his supporters that until recently were held on an almost daily basis.
The protests highlighted growing discontent in the Far East over what demonstrators see as Moscow-dominated policies that often disregard their views and interests.