Former governor of the Khabarovsk region Sergey Furgal in a Moscow court, February 10, 2023.
Moscow – A Russian court sent former governor of the Khabarovsk region Sergei Furgal to prison for 22 years , whom the authorities accused of ordering the murders of businessmen and of attempted murder between 2004 and 2005. Press agencies reported on this today. Furgal has previously pleaded not guilty. His defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict and seek an acquittal. His arrest two years ago sparked protests in Khabarovsk.
The prosecutor proposed to the court to sentence the fifty-two-year-old Furgal to 23 years of imprisonment in a prison camp with a strict regime. A jury found Furgal guilty this month and today the court handed down the sentence, sending the former governor to a maximum security penal colony for 22 years.
Police arrested Furgal on suspicion of organizing the murders of businessmen in 2020, when , when he was governor. In Khabarovsk, which lies more than 6,100 kilometers east of Moscow and has a population of approximately 600,000, his detention sparked several weeks of demonstrations. According to his supporters, the accusation was politically motivated with the aim of punishing him for his too independent attitude towards Moscow, Reuters writes.
Former businessman Furgal has been the head of the Khabarovsk region since September 2018. He ran for the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia ( LDPR) of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and replaced the pro-Kremlin governor in office after the election, which was a shocking result in Russia's tightly controlled electoral system, according to Reuters. A few days after Furgal's arrest, President Vladimir Putin installed a pro-Moscow figure in his place, Reuters noted.