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story.lead_photo.caption Police detain a protester Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia, during a rally in support of Ser- gei Furgal, the jailed governor of the Khabarovsk Krai region. More photos at arkansasonline. com/82khabarovsk/.
(AP/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW -- Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of their governor, keeping up a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin.

Smaller demonstrations took place in at least 10 other cities and 55 people were detained in those protests, according to the OVD-Info organization that monitors political arrests. No detentions were reported at the Khabarovsk rally.

Khabarovsk Krai Gov. Sergei Furgal has been in a Moscow jail since his July 9 arrest on charges of involvement in murders that occurred before his political career started. He has denied the charges.

Protesters in Khabarovsk see the charges against Furgal as unsubstantiated and are demanding that his trial take place in his home city, 3,800 miles east of the Russian capital.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxzRRmB6Dog]

His supporters have held daily protests, with the largest turnouts on weekends. The latest demonstration attracted about 10,000 people, according to some news reports. Police claimed the crowd was about 3,500.

Unlike in Moscow, where police usually move quickly to disperse unsanctioned opposition protests, authorities haven't interfered with the unauthorized demonstrations in Khabarovsk, apparently expecting them to fizzle out.

Authorities suspect Furgal of involvement in the slayings of several businessmen in 2004 and 2005, when he was a businessman with interests focusing on timber and metals. He denies the accusations.

A lawmaker on the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party ticket, Furgal won the 2018 regional gubernatorial election even though he had refrained from campaigning and publicly supported his Kremlin-backed rival.

His victory was a setback to the main Kremlin party, United Russia, which also lost its control over the regional legislature. During his time in office, Furgal earned a reputation as a "people's governor," cutting his own salary, ordering the sale of an expensive yacht that the previous administration had bought and offering new benefits to residents.

Russian President Vladimir Putin named Mikhail Degtyaryov, a federal lawmaker who is also a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, to replace Furgal, a choice that was apparently intended to assuage local anger. Degtyaryov has not yet faced the protesters.

"Nobody spoke about Putin" at first, said Kristina, 35, a manager in Khabarovsk who's taken part in the protests and declined to give her last name. "Now as the demonstrations have grown, it's 'freedom for Furgal and goodbye Putin.' It gets bolder every Saturday."

The Khabarovsk rallies are the largest sustained anti-government demonstrations since 2011-12 protests in Moscow that ended with a harsh Kremlin crackdown. The challenge to Putin's authority thousands of miles from the capital comes after he claimed overwhelming approval in the July 1 referendum for constitutional changes that give him the right to seek two more six-year terms after his present one expires in 2024.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. "The situation will calm down" as the new leadership in Khabarovsk gets down to work, he told reporters on a July 29 conference call. "We hope so."

Gallery: Russians protest arrest of governor

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/82khabarovsk/]

"The authorities assumed at first people would stop protesting, but they're still on the streets." Makarkin said. Police "aren't dispersing them because their own relatives are there on the square," while the Kremlin risks sparking clashes with local law enforcement if it sends in riot troops from Moscow, he said.

"Khabarovsk is a problem," Gleb Pavlovsky, an ex-Kremlin adviser, told Echo Moskvy radio. "There's a new level of distrust toward Moscow, toward Putin, toward the central government, and all this has fused into one."

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press; and by Evgenia Pismennaya and Henry Meyer of Bloomberg News.

Police detain a protester during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police detain a protester during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Women hold posters reading "Freedom for Furgal, Furgal is our choice, I'm/we are Furgal" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Igor Volkov)
Women hold posters reading "Freedom for Furgal, Furgal is our choice, I'm/we are Furgal" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Igor Volkov)
People march during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
People march during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police detain a protester holding a "Red Book of Khabarovsk region" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police detain a protester holding a "Red Book of Khabarovsk region" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A protester argues with a policeman during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A protester argues with a policeman during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A woman handcuffs herself to a fence while holding a Constitution of the Russian Federation, during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A woman handcuffs herself to a fence while holding a Constitution of the Russian Federation, during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A woman shouts holding a poster reads "Putin, why do you hate Russians?" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Igor Volkov)
A woman shouts holding a poster reads "Putin, why do you hate Russians?" during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in Khabarovsk, 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Igor Volkov)
Police detain a protester during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police detain a protester during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police try to cut the handcuffs off a woman who handcuffed herself to a fence during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police try to cut the handcuffs off a woman who handcuffed herself to a fence during a rally supporting Khabarovsk region's governor Sergei Furgal in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Thousands of demonstrators rallied Saturday in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk to protest the arrest of the regional governor, continuing a three-week wave of opposition that has challenged the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
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