Date Set For Preliminary Hearing In Case Against Former Khabarovsk Governor

A Russian court on February 21 will start a preliminary hearing into the case against Sergei Furgal, the former governor of the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Krai whose arrest in 2020 caused monthslong protests in the region.

Judges with the Lyubertsy City Court in the Moscow region will travel to the Russian capital, where they will start the hearings in the building of the Moscow City Court, the Lyubertsy City Court said on February 11.

During the preliminary hearings, the court is expected to set a date for the start of jury selection for the high-profile trial and decide on restrictions that will apply during proceedings for Furgal and other suspects in the case.

The hearings will be held behind closed doors.

Furgal was charged with attempted murder and ordering two killings in 2004 and 2005. He and his supporters have rejected the charges as politically motivated.

Furgal, of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was elected in 2018 in a runoff that he won handily against the region’s longtime incumbent from the Kremlin-backed ruling United Russia party.

His arrest on July 9, 2020, sparked mass protests in the Khabarovsk Krai's capital, Khabarovsk, and several other towns and cities in the region.

The protests were held almost daily for many months, highlighting growing discontent in the Far East over what demonstrators see as Moscow-dominated policies that often neglect their views and interests.

President Vladimir Putin's popularity has been declining as the Kremlin tries to deal with an economy suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and years of ongoing international sanctions.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax