Russians protest against arrest of governor on suspicion of murder | Sergei Furgal

At least 10,000 people marched in the Russian far eastern city of Khabarovsk on Saturday, demanding the release of a popular regional governor detained last week on suspicion of murder, the in the second week of protests.

Sergei Furgal, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was the governor of the Khabarovsk region where he swept to power in 2018 after defeating a rival from the ruling United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Furgal was taken to Moscow last week, where he is now in pre-trial detention after being charged with involvement in organising the murder of multiple businessmen 15 years ago.

He could face up to life in prison if found guilty of the charges, which also include involvement in attempted murder. He denies the charges.

Demonstrators packed a city thoroughfare on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, carrying posters in support of Mr Furgal, some demanding his release, others calling for an open and transparent trial, with the column of marchers stretching into the horizon. Many of the protesters say the charges are politically motivated.

The protests come barely three weeks after a landslide referendum victory for the Kremlin on amendments to the constitution, allowing Putin to remain in power for another 16 years.

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