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Thousands in Russia's far east protest governor's jailing

Thousands of protesters gathered Monday for a third straight day of massive protests in Russia's far east against the jailing of a provincial governor accused of involvement in multiple murders.

Demonstrators in Khabarovsk on the border with China have rejected the charges against Gov. Sergei Furgal as a sham and denounced the federal authorities.

The protests reflected widespread anger over the arrest of the popular governor and a simmering discontent with the Kremlin's policies.

People hold up posters with portraits of Sergei Furgal during an unsanctioned protest in Khabarovsk, 6100 kilometers (3800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, July 11, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk held a protest against the arrest of the region's governor on charges of involvement in multiple murders. (AP PhotoIgor Volkov)

The 50-year-old Furgal was arrested in Khabarovsk on Thursday and was flown to Moscow, where a court ruled that he should be held behind bars for two months as the investigation continues.

The Investigative Committee, the nation’s main criminal investigation agency, said Furgal is accused of involvement in the murders of several businessmen in the region and nearby territories in 2004 and 2005.

Furgal has denied the charges that date back to the period before he launched his political career when he was a businessman with interests ranging from imports of consumer goods to timber and metals

People hold posters reading "Freedom for Sergei Furgal and Hands off from Sergei Furgal!" during an unsanctioned protest in support of Sergei Furgal, the governor of the Khabarovsk region, who was interrogated ordered held in jail for two months, in Khabarovsk, 6100 kilometers (3800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, July 11, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk held a protest against the arrest of the region's governor on charges of involvement in multiple murders. Local news media gave estimates of the crowd ranging from 5,000 to 35,000. (AP PhotoIgor Volkov)

Before defeating a Kremlin-backed rival to win the governor’s seat in 2018, Furgal served as a federal lawmaker for a decade on the ticket of the Liberal-Democratic Party. Like the rest of his party, Furgal has never challenged federal government policy, but his unexpected victory in the gubernatorial election dealt a humiliating blow to the main Kremlin party, United Russia