Thousands of demonstrators have gathered again for a fifth week in the city of Khabarovsk, in southeast Russia, to denounce the arrest of the governor of the region a month ago.
Sergei Furgal was arrested on July 9 on suspicion of involvement in murders and jailed in Moscow, sparking protests that pose a direct challenge to the Kremlin.
The some 3,000 demonstrators protested against the accusations on Saturday, believing them to be politically motivated and wanting Furgal to be returned to the city for trial.
The committee of inquiry, Russia’s main criminal investigation agency, said Furgal was accused of being involved in the killings of several businessmen in the region and neighboring territories in 2004 and 2005.
Furgal has denied the charges.
The governor, who has been removed from office, is a popular figure in the border region of China, about 6,100 km (3,700 miles) east of Moscow.
Since his arrest, daily protests have taken place in the city, with attendance peaking at weekends.
Demonstrations in support of the Khabarovsk protesters also took place in at least seven other cities in Russia.
The OVD-Info organization which monitors political arrests said at least 10 people were arrested during the protests.
No arrests have been reported in Khabarovsk, where authorities have not interfered with the protests, apparently hoping they will die down.
Before defeating a Kremlin-backed rival to win the governor’s seat in 2018, Furgal served as federal lawmaker for about 10 years on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket.
Like the rest of his party, Furgal never challenged the policies of the federal government, but his unexpected victory in the gubernatorial election dealt a humiliating blow to the main Kremlin party, United Russia.
|Russia: thousands of protesters against the Kremlin for the fourth week|