A spanner in the works? Former Khabarovsk governor Furgal can’t be charged with murder-for-hire as he was already cleared in 2004

The former governor of Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk Region, Sergey Furgal, cannot be charged for one of the murders he is accused of ordering, as he was already found to be innocent during the original investigation.

That was back in 2004, long before Furgal took the helm in Khabarovsk, fourteen years later. He’s accused of ordering three murders in the mid-2000s, one of which was unsuccessful. One of the men killed was Evgeny Zori, a businessman who was shot in the center of Khabarovsk following a protracted conflict with Furgal, who at the time was involved in buying and selling scrap metal.

According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, Furgal had repeatedly threatened the businessman, and ordered him to be killed once Zori won their dispute in court.

Moscow daily Kommersant says the current investigation cannot bring a murder charge against Furgal, as the prosecutor’s office in Khabarovsk already investigated and found him not to be involved, back in October 2004. However, the Investigative Committee believes that local law enforcement was “influenced.”

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On July 31, following an appeal from the Investigative Committee, Moscow’s Basmanny Court ordered the decision to be overturned. However, the judgment was immediately challenged by the defense, and will now go to Moscow City Court for appeal.

Furgal, a highly popular politician in the Far East, was arrested on July 9 in Khabarovsk. Following his detention, the governor was flown immediately to Moscow, where he currently awaits charges.

Located over 6,000km from the capital, many Khabarovsk locals are infuriated that Furgal has been removed by federal powers and will stand trial so far away. Every weekend since the arrest, the streets of Khabarovsk have seen thousands of locals march in his support.

Furgal was elected governor of the Khabarovsk Region in 2018, receiving a massive 70 percent share of the vote. He has remained a popular figure ever since, and in 2019, his ultra-nationalist LDPR party won 83 percent of the seats in the local parliament.

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