Protests Spread Across Russia in Support of Jailed Khabarovsk Former Governor

Clay Curtis
August 4, 2020

Despite a downpour, spirits were high among the marchers on Saturday, who clapped, waved signs and Russian flags and chanted "20 years - no trust" in reference to the time Vladimir Putin has spent in power.

She said the central government should heed what they are calling for. "The situation will calm down" as the new leadership in Khabarovsk gets down to work, he told reporters on a July 29 conference call.

Galyamina was involved in a campaign against what she said were Putin's illegal plans to remain in power.

Journalists estimated the turnout at around 30,000 people, while the Khabarovsk city hall put the number at just 3,500, claiming there was "falling interest".

The protests have highlighted anger among some in the far east over what they see as policies emanating from detached Moscow-based authorities on the other side of the country.

The homes of Galyamina and other opposition activists were searched by law enforcement officials this month ahead of the protest. State television has given little coverage to the protests and has played down the numbers in attendance.

A protest involving several hundred people in support of Khabarovsk was also held in Vladivostok, where police detained several people, according to OVD-Info. He denies the accusations.

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.

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China's National Health Commission declined to comment, while the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Unlike in Moscow, where police usually move quickly to disperse unsanctioned opposition protests, authorities haven't interfered with the unauthorized demonstrations in Khabarovsk, apparently expecting them to fizzle out.

State-run gas company Gazprom employs cheap migrant labor on major projects rather than local workers, for example, while the managers employed by headquarters earn global wages, according to Valentina Kupriyanova, a political expert in Khabarovsk.

One factor fuelling protests is long-standing resentment among residents who feel ignored by Moscow.

Furgal was unusual for a Russian governor because he behaved like a genuine politician rather than a bureaucrat, said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow.

The Kremlin says Furgal has serious charges to answer.

"The authorities assumed at first people would stop protesting, but they're still on the streets".

"Khabarovsk is a problem", Gleb Pavlovsky, an ex-Kremlin adviser, told Echo Moskvy radio.

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