Tags: Russia | kremlin | putin | state department | khabarovsk | sergei furgal

State Dept. Keeps Eye On Putin's Deposing Elected Governor in Russia

people carry a poster of furgal and gather in a large crowd outside
People carry a portrait of Sergei Furgal during a rally in support of him in the Russian far eastern city of Khabarovsk on July 25, 2020. (Aleksandr Yanyshev/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 04 August 2020 02:13 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As news spreads worldwide about the Kremlin’s arrest of the elected governor of the Russian city of Khabarovsk and intent to try him for a murder twenty years ago, the State Department weighed in on the mounting controversy.

“We are aware of these developments and continue to watch them closely,” a State Department spokesman told Newsmax on background. “The United States continues to advocate for freedom of assembly globally as well as transparency, democracy, and the fair competition of ideas and candidates.”  

The developments that the spokesman referenced began with the landslide election of Sergei Furgal as governor of Khabarovsk in September 2018. With a population of more than a half million, Khabarovsk is the largest city in the Russian Far East.

As the candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party — a nationalist party — Furgal clobbered the candidate backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin with 70% of the vote.

“As in many recent elections in Russia,” according to anti-Putin dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, “pro-Kremlin candidates are losing to whomever else is listed on the ballot, even when genuine opposition leaders are barred from running," as they usually are.

Last month, Furgal was arrested, taken to Moscow, and arraigned on charges of organizing murders in the early 2000s. Protests immediately sprang up, with an estimated 50,000 people taking to the streets of Khabarovsk — roughly one-tenth of its population.

“Russia without Putin!” chanted protesters, numbering an estimated 10,000 on Saturday. “We are power here! Give us Furgal back!"

According to Kara-Murza, the latest demonstrations are unique because police are refraining from force. He cited a quote from opposition leader Andrei Pivovarov: “We met an officer from the National Guard. He told us: ‘We support what is happening. If there is an order to disperse [the protesters], my comrades and I will take off our uniforms. We live here.’”

Now the State Department is carefully watching Khabarovsk. As its spokesman said, “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the opportunity to select their representatives in government, participate in free and fair elections, peacefully assemble to express their views, and enjoy respect for their human rights and equal treatment under the law.” 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As news spreads worldwide about the Kremlin's arrest of the elected governor of the Russian city of Khabarovsk and intent to try him for a murder twenty years ago, the State Department weighed in on the mounting controversy."We are aware of these developments and continue...
kremlin, putin, state department, khabarovsk, sergei furgal
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2020-13-04
Tuesday, 04 August 2020 02:13 PM
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