One Big Thing: Do you think Protests in Russia’s Far East will spread to other parts of the country?
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What is it?
- For the past three weeks Russians in the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East have protested the firing and imprisonment of their democratically elected governor. At first the protests called for the reinstatement of Governor Sergei Furgal but have changed their focus to anti-Putin and pro-democracy.
- Governor Furgal was flown to Moscow where he was arrested and accused of crimes from 2004 and 2005. Immediately after his arrest, thousands of protesters took to the street to show their support for the popular opposition figure.
Why is it important?
- This is indicative of how Vladimir Putin and his cronies in Moscow will act in the upcoming regional legislature elections in September and next year’s parliamentary election. They have been accused of barring opposition candidates and otherwise rigging the election.
- Despite COVID-19, mass protests continue to be important as people around the world look for leadership, good governance, and fundamental human rights. NPR has a set of recommendations for how to safely protest during a pandemic.
- The Kremlin chose the replacement governor from the same opposition party as Furgal in an attempt to persuade people to stop protesting.
- This all comes only weeks after Putin’s national referendum to make himself “President for life”. According to a poll from last week, public confidence in Putin has plummeted to 23 percent, the lowest ever recorded and about a third of Russians say they would take part in similar protests in their own regions.
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