Russia seeks lengthy prison term for ex-governor

MOSCOW (AP): Russian authorities on Wednesday requested a lengthy prison term for a former regional governor who is standing trial on murder charges and whose arrest two years ago prompted weeks-long mass protests.

The prosecutor has asked a court in the Moscow region to sentence Sergei Furgal, former governor of Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk region, to 23 years in prison on charges of murder, attempted murder and illegal arms trafficking. Earlier this month, a jury panel found Furgal guilty on all counts.

Furgal, a former businessman, was arrested in July 2020 on suspicion of involvement in murders and taken to jail in Moscow. He denied the charges, which his supporters said were a vendetta by his rivals.

After his arrest, thousands of demonstrators have regularly rallied in Khabarovsk, a city of 600,000 people near the border with China, with attendance peaking on weekends. They protested Furgal’s jailing and demanded that his trial is held in the city.

The authorities didn’t disperse the protests, which lasted for weeks before eventually fizzling out.