Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of their governor, keeping up a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin.
His detention, which his supporters say was politically motivated, has triggered weeks of street protests, creating a headache for the Kremlin which is trying to tackle a sharp drop in real incomes as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and keep a lid on unrest as the economy stutters.
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".
Belarusian authorities said earlier this week that the men were arrested after Minsk received information that more than 200 fighters had entered the country to destablise it. Some marchers wore face masks with the same slogan.
Journalists estimated turnout at around 30,000 people while the Khabarovsk city hall put the number at just 3,500, claiming there was "falling interest".
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. The Kremlin says Furgal has serious charges to answer.
The protests have highlighted anger among some in the far east over what they see as policies emanating from detached Moscow-based authorities who have neglected them for years.
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.
Putin has named a new acting governor, but protesters say he has no connection with the region and have called on him to step down too. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.