(Reuters) – Thousands of individuals took to the streets on Saturday in Russia’s far jap city of Khabarovsk to protest in opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s dealing with of a regional political disaster and the suspected poisoning of his most vocal critic.
“Putin, have some tea,” protesters chanted as they marched on the city’s essential thoroughfare, in a reference to the case of opposition politician Alexei Navalny who fell gravely sick this month after ingesting a cup of tea at an airport cafe.
Navalny, 44, was airlifted to Germany final week after collapsing throughout a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. He is now in a medically-induced coma in a Berlin hospital. [nL8N2FT2PE]
Residents of Khabarovsk, about 6,110 km (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, began holding weekly rallies after the July 9 detention of Sergei Furgal, the area’s standard governor, over homicide costs he denies. [nL5N2ER37S]
His supporters say the detention is politically motivated. At the rally, they brandished posters denouncing “repression” and “dictatorship” and demanded that Furgal be launched and allowed to return to the city.
Some additionally expressed solidarity with opponents of Belarusian chief and long-time Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko who have been staging public protests for weeks over vote-rigging accusations within the Aug.9 presidential election.
Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Clarence Fernandez