FACTS

    Tens of thousands of people are protesting for the second successive week in Khabarovsk, Russia to oppose President Vladimir Putin and call for the release of his political rival Sergei I. Furgal. Furgal, nicknamed “the people’s governor,” was arrested in early July on charges of decades-old murders, and his replacement was appointed by Putin on Monday. Similarly, 15 “United Democrats” party members were arrested on charges of terrorism in the Tatarstan region on Saturday.

    PROTEST SUPPORT

    “Far East, We Are With You!” tweeted Aleksei A. Navalny, a head opposition leader and anti-corruption activist who commended the protestors. The protests follow recent constitutional changes which would allow Putin to remain in office for years beyond what has previously been legal, a move which many have called a coup. His recent arrests are seen as a power grab:

    “The very fact that they could not find anything more fresh to accuse him of is a clear signal that this is an act of political repression. They are telling local elites that if they can arrest a sitting governor for crimes going back 15 or 20 years then they can arrest anyone.”

    Nikolai Petrov, political analyst

    The New York Times wrote that the protests may signal that “Mr. Putin has lost his aura as an invincible leader supported by a large majority of the public.”

    FUTURE SPECULATIONS

    Previously, protestors have been labeled as “spoiled troublemaker” Moscow residents who are disconnected from the rest of the country, but recent protests may signal a new day politically. So far, Putin has not cracked down on recent protests, and local police have allowed people to gather despite having no permit.

    Putin’s recent actions have earned him the comparison to dictator Joseph Stalin. One protestor, 56 year old Irina Lukasheva, stated, “There will be a revolution. What did our grandfathers fight for? Not for poverty or for the oligarchs sitting over there in the Kremlin.”

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