Thousands of Russians take part in demonstrations against Putin in Russia’s far east

Thousands marched in the Russian far east on Saturday, for the third weekend protests in a row, to express their anger against President Vladimir Putin after the regional governor of Khabarovsk, Sergei Furgal was detained a fortnight ago  on murder charges he denies.

Khabarovsk is around 6,110 km and seven time zones east of Moscow.

His arrest, which his supporters say was politically motivated, triggered the protests and created a headache for the Kremlin which is trying to troubleshoot the coronavirus and economic crisis.

Protesters chanted “Putin resign!” and “Putin is a thief!”.

Demonstrators want Furgal flown back from Moscow and put on trial in Khabarovsk.

Local media reported that over 50,000 had attended and that it was the biggest protest of its kind so far.

Furgal defeated the candidate of Mr Putin’s United party in elections two years ago. His party, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democrat Party of Russia, is usually seen as loyal to the Kremlin. But his victory was seen as a blow to United Russia‘s grip on power in the regions, and he is a popular figure in the far east.

In an apparent move to defuse tensions, Putin on Monday named a new acting governor. But protesters said they felt insulted by the choice of Mikhail Degtyaryov, who has no connection with the region, and have demanded he step down.