Dissatisfaction is smoldering during elections in Russian Far East cities

Khabarovsk – A handful of demonstrators gathering in Khabarovsk every night are in the shadow of the masses who participated in an unusually persistent wave of protests in Russia’s Far Eastern cities last year, but they chronically remind us of persistent political tensions.

Demonstrators are demanding the release of Sergei Furgal, a popular former governor of the region, who was arrested last year on suspicion of being involved in the murder.

His Kremlin-appointed successor, Mikhail Degucharov, is currently being voted by the governor in a three-day regional vote ending on Sunday. Local elections take place at the same time that Russians vote for the House of Representatives, the Diet.

Governor elections are carefully monitored to measure how much anger remains in the region, located in seven time zones east of Moscow and 6,100 km (3,800 miles).

“Of course, the region is really worried about the Kremlin, because they, of course, don’t want to repeat these incidents (last year’s protests). Khabarovsk is now under close supervision,” Carnegie said. Andrei Kolesnikov of the Moscow Center Think Tank said.


While the other three are participating in the governor’s vote, about 600,000 cities of Fulgal and other supporters were allowed to run to look like a democratic and competitive race. He complains that he is a trivial candidate.

“No matter how small the threat, running was forbidden, leaving only spoiler candidates,” said 64-year-old protester Sigmund Fujakov.

In particular, United Russia, the country’s dominant political party and loyal supporter of President Vladimir Putin, does not have a candidate for governor in Khabarovsk. Nor is it the Communist Party, Russia’s second largest political party.

Degtyaryov, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, is widely believed to be endorsed by the Kremlin for both advice and money.

The man who wanted to run with a Communist ticket was kept away from the ballot because he couldn’t get enough signatures from the officials. The ambitious candidate, Pyotr Perevesentsev, told The Associated Press that local government officials in some districts were told by their boss who had a petition to sign.


“People representing the presidential administration curated these elections,” he said.

Separately, Frugal’s son Anton says he was locked out of parliamentary ballots. “For example, there is an opinion that if my name was Ivanov, I would be allowed to run,” he said.

Degtyaryov rejects such claims.

“As Head of Government of Khabarovsk Krai, I have a duty to ensure transparent, legal, free and fair elections, and we comply with all these provisions,” he said with a recently televised inhabitant. I mentioned in the question and answer session.

Weeks of protests after Sergei Fulgar’s arrest in July 2020 seemed to surprise authorities. Unlike Moscow, where police usually act swiftly to disperse unauthorized rallies, authorities did not interfere with unauthorized demonstrations in Khabarovsk and apparently expected them to fail.

Liberal Democratic Party member Frugal won the 2018 regional governor’s election, despite his public support for the Kremlin-backed rivals ahead of the campaign.


His victory was a humiliating setback for United Russia, which also lost control over the local council.

During his tenure, Frugal gained a reputation as “People’s Governor”, reduced his salary, ordered the sale of expensive yachts purchased by the previous administration, and provided new benefits to the inhabitants.

His arrest, aired on a Russian television station, was accused by the U.S.’s premier criminal investigation agency, the Investigation Commission, of being involved in the killings of several businessmen in and around the region in 2004 and 2005. Happened after being done. Moscow and Fergal have denied the charges, according to the Tas news agency.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a veteran politician with a reputation for candid comments and an ultra-nationalist member who once called Furgal “the best governor in the region”.


Frugal’s arrest was a regular Saturday protest that took hundreds and thousands of people to the streets of Khabarovsk. A year later, the rally will continue, albeit much smaller.

Local activists say it is due to persistent pressure from authorities interested in ensuring that Degucharov wins the election.

Rallying is limited to a maximum of 10 people under new rules enforced by police that monitor and film protests. Officers disperse larger ones.

Protesters say they have lost their jobs after being seen in the protests and are under pressure at work and in college.

Many wear T-shirts with the face of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, while others carry signs that depict Frugal or blame the new governor.

“We are always living in fear because we can be arrested at any time,” said 47-year-old education worker Dennis Pedish.


“Difficult. But people have hope and faith and are actively fighting the lawlessness of the authorities and the lawlessness of elections. These are the laughter that the world should see,” said Mr. Pedish.


Anna Frants and Olga Tregubova of Moscow contributed to the report.

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Dissatisfaction is smoldering during elections in Russian Far East cities

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