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Khabarovsk governor in custody, faces murder charges

The official was detained on suspicion of organizing contract killings and attempted murder

MOSCOW, July 9. /TASS/. Russian investigators are drawing up criminal charges and have arrested Sergei Furgal, governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Region, the Investigative Committee said on its website on Thursday.

The official was detained on suspicion of organizing contract killings and attempted murder. A video, released by the Russian Investigative Committee, shows Furgal being led away in handcuffs after arriving at his office.

"Considering the evidence gathered, detectives from the Investigative Committee together with FSB officers detained Khabarovsk Region Governor Sergei Furgal, who, according to the investigation, is the mastermind behind one attempted murder and several murders of entrepreneurs," the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Charges against the official are going to be filed soon.

Investigators are set to request the court to choose custody as a measure of pretrial restraint for the official.

According to the Committee, the arrest was made in connection with the investigation into a multi-episode criminal case against an organized criminal gang, suspected of murders and attacks on businessmen in the Khabarovsk and Amur Regions in 2004-2005. Apart from Furgal, four other suspects have been arrested and charged as part of the case.

A source close to the investigation said the official "was detained at his workplace." "Law enforcement officers are taking measures to transport him to Moscow," he added.

A law enforcement source said Furgal’s case "contains at least two episodes of murder and one attempted murder" - the murder of businessmen Yevgeny Zorya and Oleg Bulatov in 2004 and 2005, and the attempted murder of entrepreneur Alexander Smolsky, a founder of several commercial organizations in the region’s administrative center of Khabarovsk.

The governor’s biography

Sergei Furgal was born on February 12, 1970, in the village of Poyarkovo in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur Region. He graduated from the Blagoveshchensk State Medical University in 1992 and from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in 2010. Between 2005 and 2007, he was a lawmaker in the Khabarovsk Region’s legislature, elected as a member of the LDPR party.

In 2007-2018, Furgal was a member of State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament. On September 9, he ran in gubernatorial elections to defeat Khabarovsk Region’s governor Vyacheslav Shport (of the United Russia party) by a narrow margin of 35.81% against 35.62%. In the runoff, Furgal received 69.57% of the vote, while Shport got 27.97%.

On September 28, 2018, Furgal was sworn in as the governor of the Khabarovsk Region.

The LDPR party’s regional office in the Khabarovsk Region said there were no plans to eject Furgal from the party so far.