Thousands gathered in Khabarovsk (Khabarovsk Krai) on Saturday, July 25, in protest against the arrest of former governor Sergei Furgal. Regional authorities state that 6500 people attended the rally, although pro-opposition figures claimed an attendance of 90,000. Journalists in Khabarovsk reported that Saturday's rally was the largest yet, with past demonstrations seeing up to 50,000 people taking part. Anti-government slogans were reportedly chanted, with protests centering in front of the regional administrative building on Lenin Square. Police allowed the protest to go ahead, despite having been banned due to social distancing measures in place in Russia due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Related protests have also been taking place throughout Khabarovsk Krai and in other urban centers, with demonstrations reported in Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and Birobidzhan.
Further protests are likely in the near term throughout Khabarovsk Krai, and associated disruptions are to be expected.
Sergei Fugal was arrested on July 9 under suspicion of involvement in the murders of three businessmen between 2004 and 2005. Opposition groups have questioned why Furgal has been arrested 15 years after the crimes he is accused of and claimed that Furgal's detention is linked to a crackdown on the opposition following the recent vote on constitution reforms that enable President Vladimir Putin to seek two further terms in office.
Those in the Khabarovsk region, and Russia more generally, are advised to avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of arrest, refrain from discussing political subjects in public or on social media, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, and anticipate localized disruption near any protest sites.
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