Huge Crowds Continue Russia Protest Over Arrest of Former Governor
Huge crowds took to the streets of the Russian city of Khabarovsk Saturday in continued protests following the arrest of former governor Sergey Furgal.Since his arrest on July 9, residents have demonstrated daily in the city, with attendance significantly increasing on weekends.”I do not agree with this government’s course, this is a criminal government, they rob our cities, our regions,” said Elvira, a protester. “I’m against Moscow. All evil comes from the Kremlin.”The governor was arrested by federal law enforcement officers on charges related to murders in 2004 and 2005. He was flown to Moscow, where he was ordered jailed for two months.Furgal, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has denied the charges.The protesters in the Far East city near the border with China, 6,100 kilometers east of Moscow, believe the charges leveled against him are politically motivated.Khabarovsk protesters also expressed support for the opposition in Belarus, where election officials declared longtime authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko the winner of the August 9 election.”We are very worried about them (Belarusian people),” said Oleg, a businessman who wouldn’t give his last name. “The things president Lukashenko gets away with there – well, president for now still – are just totally unacceptable, you can’t do that to your own people. (Reporter: Do you think they will succeed?) I think so. But it will take time, not so fast.”The Belarusian Central Election Commission said on Monday that after all ballots were counted, Lukashenko took 80.23% of the votes and the main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had 9.9% of the vote.”I’ve never actually been to Belarus, it’s just that I understand we have a common historical past, which connects us,” said Yelizaveta Lipatova, an engineer. “Our political systems grew up side by side as well in the 90s and before that. And so I believe we have to follow each other closely, support each other, not lose sight of each other. I think that Belarusians are doing great, and we can learn a lot from them.” Some rally participants did not give their last names for fear of being arrested later.Aleksei Vorsin, Khabarovsk’s regional campaign chief for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was detained Saturday after calling for a strike.