Russian court places regional governor in pre-trial detention on murder charges
July 10 2020 05:57 PM
Governor of Khabarovsk Region Sergei Furgal, accused of crimes including attempted murder, is escort
Governor of Khabarovsk Region Sergei Furgal, accused of crimes including attempted murder, is escorted to a police vehicle after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia

Reuters/Moscow

A Russian court on Friday ordered that a regional governor who beat a ruling party candidate in a 2018 election be held in pre-trial detention, charged with organising the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago.
Sergei Furgal, governor of the far eastern Khabarovsk region, was detained on Thursday and taken to Moscow. He could face up to life in prison if found guilty of the charges dating from 2004-2005 that also included an attempted murder.
He denies the charges. His lawyer, Boris Kozhemyakin, said Furgal would appeal against the judges' ruling that he be remanded in custody until Sept. 9.
The hearing was closed to media and the public at the prosecution's request to ensure the safety of Furgal and other participants in the case, several of whom had reported being threatened, the prosecution said.
"I have not received any threats," Furgal was quoted as saying by the RBC daily. "I do not see any threat to me from others. As far as others are concerned, I don't know anything about it."
Furgal, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party known as the LDPR and a former lawmaker, was popular in the Pacific region where he swept to power in 2018 after defeating a rival from the ruling United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin.
The arrest is likely to fuel fears of a mounting wave of repression following last week's adoption of sweeping constitutional reforms that clear the way for Putin, if re-elected, to serve two more terms in the Kremlin until 2036
Five other members of Furgal's party in Khabarovsk were searched, first deputy chairman of the local parliament and LDPR member Sergei Zyubr was cited as saying by the TASS news agency on Friday.
In Khabarovsk, video footage from news website DVHAB showed around 100 residents protesting against Furgal's detention, shouting "freedom for Sergei Furgal" and "give back our governor".
A petition calling for Furgal's release had gathered more than 37,000 signatures by Friday and his supporters were posting pictures on social media with a message set against the colours of the Khabarovsk region's flag, reading: "I am/We are Sergei Furgal."



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