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Dozens Detained In Fourth Weekend Of Protests Over Arrest Of Russian Far East Governor


Protesters Brave Drenching Rain To Demonstrate In Khabarovsk For 22nd Day
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WATCH: Protesters Brave Drenching Rain To Demonstrate In Khabarovsk For 22nd Day

KHABAROVSK, Russia -- Dozens of people were reportedly detained at demonstrations across Russia on August 1 as a wave of anti-Kremlin protests continued following the unseating and arrest of a jailed former governor in Russia's Far East.

Thousands of people braved rainy weather in the eastern city of Khabarovsk to attend a fourth weekend of the mass demonstrations to express anger since central authorities arrested Governor Sergei Furgal and transferred him to custody in Moscow.

There were no detentions reported at the Khabarovsk event.

But the OVD-Info group that tracks political arrests said 70 people were detained at similar events in 14 other cities, including 23 in St. Petersburg, 14 in Moscow, and others in Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

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.

But on July 9, Furgal was arrested 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 fired by Putin, who appointed LDPR member Mikhail Degtyaryov as the Khabarovsk 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.

"The government [in Moscow] doesn't think of us as people," one woman demonstrator told journalists on August 1. "We're scum to them."

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.

Sheltering from sporadic rain beneath umbrellas on August 1, protesters could be heard chanting, "Freedom!" and "Putin resign!" outside a government building.

One banner at the demonstration read: "Russia without Putin."

Others chanted: “We need the entire country’s support," and mocked Russia's state media for failing to report on their demonstrations and grievances.

“Shame on the Russian media,” protesters chanted.

Municipal officials said they estimated the crowd at about 3,500 people.

Some local media put the number above 10,000 protesters but said the crowds were smaller than in previous weeks.

Sustained demonstrations against the government in Moscow are unusual for Russia's regions, as is a lack of response from authorities to break them up.

With reporting from Current Time and Reuters

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