Thousands gathered in Khabarovsk (Khabarovsk Krai) on Saturday, August 1, in protest of the arrest of former governor Sergei Furgal. Regional authorities state that around 3500 people attended the march, although some local media put the number at around 10,000. The protest passed off peacefully, although anti-government slogans were reportedly chanted. 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.
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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