Protesters took to the street in cities across Russia on Saturday in support of jailed Khabarovsk former governor Sergei Furgal.
Russian federal police detained protesters in the cities of Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Moscow.
The demonstrations come as thousands of people marched in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk for the fourth weekend Saturday, angered by the arrest of the region’s popular governor and his replacement with a Kremlin favorite.
The situation in the Khabarovsk region has become a problem for the Kremlin as demonstrations in support of protesters there are spreading elsewhere in the country.
Furgal, 50, a medical doctor by training, was arrested by Russian federal law enforcement in early July on charges related to multiple murders in 2004 and 2005. He was flown to Moscow, where he was ordered jailed for two months and is being held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison.
Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Furgal with a young State Duma deputy, Mikhail Degtiarev, with no ties to the region, to serve as acting governor of the Khabarovsk region.
Many people in Khabarovsk believe the charges leveled against Furgal, and his replacement last week, are politically motivated. Furgal was elected in 2018, defeating a candidate from Putin’s party, United Russia.
Braving the heavy rain beneath umbrellas Saturday, protesters were chanting “Freedom!” and “Putin resign!” outside a government building, while a banner read “Russia without Putin!” At times protesters also chanted “We came here of our own will.”
Many in Khabarovsk, a city on the border with China, see the charges against Furgal as unsubstantiated and politically motivated. They are demanding that his trial take place in his home city, not Moscow.
Protests in the city, about 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow, erupted July 11. Since then, protesters have been demanding the release of Furgal and an open and fair trial for him.