Thousands of Russians protest Vladimir Putin’s decision to arrest governor
As the protests in America have continued despite federal agents’ force, Vladimir Putin protests in Khabarovsk, Russia, have popped up attracting tens of thousands of people.
The Russians are protesting Putin’s decision to arrest their governor, Sergei Furgal, for suspicion of being involved in murders in the early 2000s, via the New York Times.
“The very fact that they could not find anything more fresh to accuse him of is a clear signal that this is an act of political repression,” Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst, said via the New York Times. “They are telling local elites that if they can arrest a sitting governor for crimes going back 15 or 20 years then they can arrest anyone.”
The protestors wanted Furgal to face trial in Khabarovsk, where the protests are, instead of Moscow, where a pro-Putin decision would be more likely to be handed down.
Putin has since appointed non-local lawmaker Mikhail Degtyaryov to take Furgal’s position.
“Degtyaryov has refrained from facing the protesters and left the city on Saturday for an inspection trip across the region,” said TIME.
“Russian journalists who have been following the protests since the beginning said Saturday’s crowds were the biggest yet,” said the New York Times. “Opposition activists estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 had turned out. City officials said that about 6,500 people had attended, clearly an undercount.”
“The size and durability of the demonstrations are unprecedented for Khabarovsk, a provincial capital with a population of 600,000,” said NPR. “For President Vladimir Putin, whose aversion to street protests is well known, they pose an additional challenge as Russia battles the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it caused.”
In addition to the governor being arrested, there is a lot of tension involving Putin’s recent vote that extended his rule until 2036.
“With support from 78% of voters and 65% turnout, Putin won a referendum earlier in July establishing a new constitution that could extend his reign for decades,” said TIME. “Yes, there were millions of contested ballots and “prizes” given to voters who showed up at the polls, but no one really expected a free or fair vote, and credible numbers from the Russian polling firm Levada tell us that even a less popular Putin still has the approval of 60% of Russians.”
The momentum for change around the world is palpable. From the Black Lives Matter protests in America and across Europe to the protests in Russia, people are waking up to a corrupt system and want real change, not an illusion of change.
“There will be a revolution,” vendor Irina Lukasheva said via the New York Times. “What did our grandfathers fight for? Not for poverty or for the oligarchs sitting over there in the Kremlin.”