Thousands marched in Russia’s far eastern city of Khabarovsk on Saturday in support of its regional governor, who is being held in pre-trial detention after being charged with organising the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago.

Sergei Furgal, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was a popular governor of the Khabarovsk region where he swept to power in 2018 after defeating a rival from the ruling United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin.

He was detained on Thursday and taken to Moscow and could face up to life in prison if found guilty of the charges that include attempted murder. He denies the charges.

Video footage from news website DVHAB showed people chanting “Furgal is our choice”, “Freedom” and marching with posters “I am/We are Sergei Furgal.”

“Get out of here, Moscow,” an unnamed female resident said in another video from the same website, which claimed the protest was the largest in Khabarovsk’s history.

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