Russian investigators have arrested the governor of a Far Eastern province, who two years ago won a surprise victory over the Kremlin favorite, on suspicion of ordering the murder of businessmen.
Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee announced on July 9 in a statement on its website that it had detained Khabarovsk Governor Sergei Furgal.
Russian media reported that Furgal, 50, was arrested as part of a wider investigation into an organized criminal group operating in the region. He will be soon arraigned on charges of organizing the murder and the attempted murder of the businessmen, RIA Novosti reported.
The charges relate to events in 2004 and 2005, the news agency reported.
Furgal, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, beat incumbent Vyacheslav Shport in 2018 in a major upset for the ruling United Russia party.
Tatyana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst, wrote in 2019 that Furgal was “an undesirable candidate for the Kremlin.”
Furgal was backed by former Khabarovsk governor Viktor Ishayev, who ran the region from 1991 until 2009.
Ishayev was arrested last year after Furgal began placing some of his people in high positions in the regional administration. Ishayev was accused of embezzling money via fraudulent activities from the state oil company Rosneft.
Furgal served in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, from 2007 until 2018.