Russia Jails Popular Blogger Who Covered Khabarovsk Protests

KHABAROVSK, Russia – A Russian court sentenced a well-known blogger who has covered ongoing daily protests in the Far Eastern city to seven days in jail after finding him guilty of violating the law on public gatherings.

Aleksei Romanov’s lawyer, Vitaly Tykhta, told RFE/RL that his client was detained and sentenced on July 31.

Romanov fled Russia with his family in 2016, saying that he feared for his safety amid a campaign of harassment by the local authorities. He returned to Khabarovsk last year.

Over the past three weeks, protesters have taken to the streets of Khabarovsk and other towns and cities in Khabarovsk Krai in support of the arrested former governor of the region, Sergei Furgal.

Furgal, who was arrested in Khabarovsk on July 9 and transferred to Moscow, was charged with attempted murder and ordering two murders in 2004-2005.

He denies the allegations and his supporters say the charges are politically motivated.

Police in Khabarovsk and elsewhere have detained several protesters in recent days. Some of them have been fined or sentenced to detention for several days.

The demonstrators nitially demanded Furgal’s release, but their anger has grown to include calls for the resignation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Khabarovsk region residents overwhelmingly voted for Furgal in the 2018 gubernatorial elections. His surprise victory was a blow to the ruling United Russia party.

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