Russia: 22 years in prison for an ex-governor whose arrest had provoked major demonstrations

Russia: 22 years in prison for a former governor whose arrest led to major events


A Moscow region court on Friday sentenced to 22 years in prison an ex-governor, Sergei Furgal, whose arrest in the summer of 2020 had provoked large and rare opposition demonstrations in Russian Far East. 

Defendant, who maintains his innocence, was found guilty of ordering two murders and another assault between 2004 and 2005, the agencies said. Russian press reports, which specify that he will have to serve his sentence “in a colony with a strict regime”.

His lawyer, Boris Kojemiakine, told the Ria-Novosti agency that his client was going to appeal.

Governor of the immense Khabarovsk region between 2018 and 2020, Sergei Fourgal, 52, enjoyed significant popularity in this territory. He had been elected by largely defeating a candidate from the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Fourgal represented the nationalist LDPR party, subject to the Kremlin, but whose elected officials, especially in the regions, can sometimes be more critical of power.

He was arrested on July 9, 2020, sparking protests for his release that for weeks mobilized thousands of people, mainly in Khabarovsk. 

His supporters claimed his arrest was political. Another member of the LDPR party, Mikhail Degtiarev, was appointed governor of the region after his arrest.

Sergei Fourgal, who was tried in Moscow, thousands of kilometers from Khabarovsk, is accused of ordering the murders of two businessmen and organizing an attack on another entrepreneur between 2004 and 2005.

Three other men, accused of being his accomplices, were also sentenced on Friday to sentences ranging from nine and a half to 21 years in prison, Russian news agencies reported.

Large-scale opposition demonstrations are very rare in Russian regions, where the authorities tend to repress them less brutally, lest they stir up a stir far from Moscow.