“Moscow’s protege will not win here” Due to the arrest of the governor, Khabarovsk gathered for protests of many thousands – and the police did not interfere. City deputy and head of Navalny’s headquarters explain that it was

https://meduza.io/impro/IBX83vIhGro1kikPjj5ErP3fbdsaWvrgKzCFw0xvpUM/fill/650/0/ce/1/aHR0cHM6Ly9tZWR1/emEuaW8vaW1hZ2Uv/YXR0YWNobWVudHMv/aW1hZ2VzLzAwNS83/MDEvNjA2L29yaWdp/bmFsL2VqaFJrRURu/MXhMemw3cXdBRnhz/VEEuanBn.webpDmitry Morgulin / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

On July 11, a rally was held in Khabarovsk in support of the arrested governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, Sergei Furgal. Several tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the city: the action is called the most massive in the history of the city. Despite the fact that she was unauthorized, the police did not prevent the rally and the march along the central streets of the city. The Medusa special correspondent Andrei Pertsev talked about the reasons for the rally, the actions of the police and the prospects for a Far Eastern protest with the deputy of the Khabarovsk City Duma from LDPR Alexander Kayan and the head of the Khabarovsk headquarters Alexei Navalny Alexei Vorsin.

Alexander Kayan: “Police are also residents of Khabarovsk who voted for Furgal”

–  How do you assess the number of participants in the rally?

– Basically, they talk about about 20-30 thousand participants, but it is really impossible to count people, because the crowd descended from Lenin Square to Komsomolskaya Square, and then to the Glory Square, which was completely packed with people. True, it was very difficult to calculate, but more than 30 thousand people for sure! People came, went, joined, disconnected – with this in mind, you can count 60 thousand. I admit such a figure.

– People walked along the roadway, how did motorists who got into traffic jams reacted to the procession?

– On Karl Marx Street, road work was going on – they stopped, the workers on their trucks signaled a march. We must pay tribute to the traffic police, who organized themselves abruptly and quickly, as if they sent people in a large circle. Due to this, several street intersections were free, and cars could pass. But the two central streets of the city were blocked, and the drivers did not have any disturbances. They supported. This is what I saw.

– In the Nenets district, whose residents protested against the merger with the Arkhangelsk region, many cars had stickers expressing the position of people. Is there such a thing in Khabarovsk?

– There are more and more stickers. For example, I received a sticker on Komsomolskaya Square and asked the person who was distributing them – where did he get them from? He replied that he spent 12 thousand rubles on his personal earnings. In almost every district of Khabarovsk, one can see people distributing car stickers. They are different in appearance, not from one printing house. There is no template in common!

– What, in your opinion, is the main message of the rally?

– People, first of all, defended their choice – and shouted “This is our choice!”. I talked with the protesters: no one believes that the hand of justice overtook the governor for the crimes that he allegedly could have committed in 2004-2005. Almost all residents of the city see this as a political subtext and are ready to defend their choice.

If we take the situation in 2018, when Sergei Furgal was elected, people went to vote against [Governor Vyacheslav] Sport, this is no secret to anyone. In 2019, when the LDPR won, people went to the polls to protect the governor – a lot of dirt poured on him. It was also a defense of choice. The meeting is a continuation of this story. During the action there were no provocations. At the  White House, one person suggested saying thanks to the police. She did not intervene – as we see, this happens at rallies. And the people shouted – thanks!

– Why did the police behave calmly and restrained?

– These are also residents of Khabarovsk, who also voted for the governor. I spoke with many police officers, they admitted that they voted for Furgal. Khabarovsk – the city is not so big, each person can find common friends. These are the same Khabarovsk residents, only at execution, they all see and understand perfectly. They did everything correctly, understood that in the event of some provocation by the police, there could have been the effect of an exploding bomb. Tens of thousands of people opposed political repression walked along the street. By the way, many had fears that law enforcement officers from other regions of Russia who did not know us would be brought here.

– I  saw information that the Rosgvardeytsy from Rostov-on-Don had already arrived in Khabarovsk.

– There are different rumors, it is impossible to confirm them – they say about Rostov and Novosibirsk. Let’s call it fears.

– Do you observe the reaction to the rally in pro-government media and telegram channels?

– In theory, the federal government is interested in stabilizing the situation, but absurd provocations begin in pro-government channels: for example, that there were few people. But everyone in Khabarovsk understands that this is not so. They write that the rally was organized almost from the government of the region, but this again offends people. In addition, it is impossible to organize an action from above in two days, there are no such specialists here. Maybe such news somehow smooths the perception of the situation in Khabarovsk in other regions, but only aggravate the situation in the Khabarovsk Territory. It is not clear why the situation is escalating. Probably just not enough brains to figure it out.

– Will the protests continue or decline?

– People are ready to go out on a large scale every Saturday, I asked the participants in the rally. Everything goes as usual, people do not quit work, but they are ready to defend their opinions. We were noticed all over Russia, it pleases us that everything goes without extremes, without riots, without provocations.

Alexei Vorsin: “Unclear Moscow uncles came from the presidential administration and decided to select a choice”

– What do you think, how many people came to the rally?

– These are thousands, tens of thousands of people. Even the Khabarovsk police admitted that there were more than 10 thousand participants. It’s even difficult to count here, I’ve never seen the whole crowd, there were a lot of people.

– Has Khabarovsk seen an action of such proportions?

“I don’t remember that.” Grandfathers, however, say that in 1991 thousands of people gathered in the square, but I did not see this.

– What slogans sounded at the rally?

– The first slogans were with the demands of freedom for Furgalu, people shouted – “This is our choice.” Already during the procession they started shouting “Shame on Moscow!”, People shouted personally against Putin too. You walk in the crowd, someone randomly charges a chant, and everyone picks up – “Down with the Tsar,” “Putin is a thief.” All this was also.

– What is the main message of the rally?

– Furgal is a choice made by the Khabarovsk residents, and then strange Moscow uncles came from the presidential administration and decided to select this choice. People opposed this.

– Because of these “incomprehensible uncles” there were anti-Moscow cries?

– Yes. For example, they well accepted the proposal to judge Furgal in the Khabarovsk Territory. People do not believe the court, which will be held in Moscow.

– How did the police behave?

– The police initially surrounded the Lenin Square with a fence – under the pretext that disinfection from the coronavirus will be carried out here. Either the police removed it in the end, or people themselves removed it. And nothing terrible happened – at first the people went to the square, then went along the roadway. The main thing is that drivers who got stuck because of this did not show any aggression. Every second driver honked in support, got out of the car, applauded.

– Are new protests possible?

“I’m not ready to judge whether rallies will be repeated.” But the [protest] mood will remain, and electorally it will be felt. I can’t imagine how the “federals” with their agenda for the State Duma elections will come here – “United Russia”, Putin … They didn’t like them anyway. After the splash that occurred today – people saw that they were not alone, that thousands thought so. This is the key thing [in the State Duma elections] will be.

– How will the Khabarovsk citizens react to the one who will be appointed instead of Sergei Furgal?

– Depends on what this person will do. By the way, there are few people who want to take this position. Probably, acting, whoever he is, will begin to declare – it’s not me who planted Furgal. But at least to each appointee there will be an initial distrust, any mistakes will be noticed. A year will have to work for the acting ones, and in the elections, in any case, it will be bad. I do not see any possibility that the protege of Moscow would win here. We’ll have to compose some tricky scheme, pull some of the local ones. It will not work, as in some regions, to send the FSB officer from the center. Nothing shines for such a candidate here.

(C)MEDUZA 2020

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