Tens of thousands of people in the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk marched in an unsanctioned rally on July 18 to protest the arrest of a local governor.
Videos of the event showed a massive crowd filing down a main thoroughfare in the regional capital and gathering in its main square to demand the release of Khabarovsk Krai Governor Sergei Furgal.
An estimated 15,000 to 50,000 demonstrators took part in the nearly five-hour rally, according to reports, although police gave no official crowd estimate. City authorities reported no arrests or violence.
The rally ended in front of the city’s Mayor’s Office, where demonstrators protested comments made by Mayor Sergei Kravchuk, who earlier suggested that Furgal’s supporters were being paid.
Furgal, who was arrested in Khabarovsk on July 9 and transferred to Moscow, is charged with attempted murder and ordering two murders in 2004-2005. On July 16, the Moscow City Court in a closed-door decision upheld Furgal’s pretrial detention.
He has pleaded not guilty, and supporters who have gathered in large numbers since Furgal’s arrest have questioned why the charges took 15 years to surface.
The protests, far from the Russian capital, come following a controversial nationwide vote that set the stage for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036.
Rallies also took place on July 18 in the Khabarovsk Krai city of Komsomolk-On-Amur and in the port city of Vladivostok in the neighboring Primorsk region.