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Kremlin-Backed Governor Of Khabarovsk Wins Election After Protests Against His Appointment


Mikhail Degtyaryov received 57 percent of the vote in a whittled down field of contenders in the September 17-19 election, according to preliminary numbers from the Central Election Commission.

The Kremlin-appointed governor of Khabarovsk won the election to head the Far Eastern region, more than a year after the arrest of his popular predecessor triggered protests.

Mikhail Degtyaryov received 57 percent of the vote in a whittled down field of contenders in the September 17-19 election, according to preliminary numbers from the Central Election Commission.

Large anti-government protests in the region erupted last year after the arrest in July 2020 of Governor Sergei Furgal, highlighting discontent in the Far East over what demonstrators viewed as Moscow-dominated policies that often neglect their views and interests.

Former Khabarovsk Governor Sergei Furgal (center) attends a court hearing in Moscow in March.
Former Khabarovsk Governor Sergei Furgal (center) attends a court hearing in Moscow in March.

Furgal is currently in pretrial detention in Moscow facing charges of attempted murder and ordering two killings in 2004 and 2005. He denies the charges.

He was elected governor of Khabarovsk in 2018 with the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in a runoff that he won against the region's longtime incumbent from the Kremlin-backed ruling United Russia party.

Degtyaryov, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was appointed by the Kremlin to replace Furgal although he has no ties to the region. He is widely believed to be backed by the Kremlin with resources.

Only three other candidates faced off against Degtyaryov in the election, but they were widely viewed as providing nothing more than a veneer of a democratic and competitive race.

Significantly, the ruling United Russia party did not field a candidate for governor in Khabarovsk. Russia’s second-largest party, the Communists, failed to submit documents for their candidate on time and election officials refused to consider them.

The vote in Khabarovsk was held as part of national elections for the lower house of parliament, or State Duma, and that of dozens of regional governors and local legislative assemblies.

The election was marred by widespread allegations of irregularities.

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