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Russian Governor Charged With Ordering Murders Sent To Pretrial Detention

By RFE/RL's Russian Service July 10, 2020

MOSCOW -- Sergei Furgal, the detained governor of Russia's Far Eastern Khabarovsk region, has been sent to pretrial detention on charges of attempted murder and ordering the killing of two local businessmen.

The Basmanny district court in Moscow on July 10 ruled that the 50-year-old, who has pleaded not guilty, must be held under pretrial arrest until September 9.

His lawyers, who asked the court to choose a more lenient pretrial restriction for their client, said they will appeal the ruling.

Furgal, a member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) won a surprise victory over the Kremlin favorite in a vote two years ago. He was arrested on July 9.

A court in Moscow is expected to decide on Furgal's possible pretrial detention later on July 10.

Meanwhile, police in Khabarovsk on July 10 detained two regional lawmakers, also members of LDPR, party faction leader Sergei Zyubr said.

According to Zyubr, Sergei Kuznetsov and Dmitry Kozlov, deputy chairman of the regional parliament, were detained after their homes, garages, and vehicles were searched.

Police also searched the properties of three other LDPR members in Khabarovsk, Zyubr added.

The TASS news agency quoted a source as saying that the detention of Kuznetsov and Kozlov was not, "at this point," related to Furgal's case.

The two lawmakers used to run the Amurstal steel plant.

The daily Kommersant reported that the two are suspected of large-scale fraud.

Zhirinovsky said in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, that Furgal's detention might be politically motivated.

"We are ready to resign in protest. If need be, the LDPR faction will give up its mandates and leave this place. Let the whole world learn what a mess this country is," Zhirinovsky said.

Without naming President Vladimir Putin, Zhirinovsky mentioned that his party supported recently adopted constitutional amendments that, among other changes, allow the president to seek two more terms after his current term ends in 2024.

"You wanted a constitution? We gave you a constitution. And you put cuffs on our hands! Shameless! You are sitting in high office and start acting like [Soviet dictator Josef] Stalin!" Zhirinovsky said.

Media reports said that Furgal's arrest was part of a wider investigation into an organized criminal group operating in the region.

The charges relate to events in 2004-05, RIA Novosti reported.

Furgal beat incumbent Vyacheslav Shport in the 2018 election in a major upset of the ruling United Russia party.

With reporting by RBK, Kommersant, TASS, and RIA Novosti

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-regional -governor-charged-with-ordering-murders -pleads-not-guilty/30717894.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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