‘Special troublemakers’ The Khabarovsk Territory’s new acting governor says local protests are being organized from abroad. Here’s what the Kremlin thinks.
On Friday, July 24, the Khabarovsk Territory’s newly appointed acting governor, Mikhail Degtyarev, told reporters that foreign citizen flew in from Moscow to help organize local demonstrations against his appointment. Khabarovsk has seen sustained mass protests in response to the arrest of now ex-governor Sergey Furgal since July 11. Here’s how Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to a Kommersant FM correspondent’s questions about Degtyarev’s claims.
Kommersant FM: Earlier you said that in the Kremlin’s opinion, the people who are going out to rallies in Khabarovsk aren’t instigators or hirelings of the West; the people are simply expressing their opinion about the situation involving [former governor] Sergey Furgal in this way. But [acting governor] Mikhail Degtyarev has different information. He claimed that he received evidence from law enforcement officers that there are foreign citizens at these rallies, who flew from Moscow to stir up the situation. Has the Kremlin received reports that the protests in Khabarovsk could be organized from abroad? Is there an understanding of what kind of foreigners they are? Are there traces of NATO, Czech citizens, or someone else here?
Dmitry Peskov: If you recall, yesterday we spoke to you about the fact that the ongoing rallies are, of course, fertile ground for different quasi- or pseudo-oppositionists, special troublemakers, and so on, who feed on this [and], of course, flew there. Therefore, it’s generally impossible to speak about this being organized from abroad. We didn’t say anything about that. But the fact that over time these actions are joined by these kinds of elements is clear. There’s no contradictions here.
Kommersant FM: So this was also reported to the Kremlin?
Dmitry Peskov: Well, listen, there’s no need to report to the Kremlin here. Law enforcement officers on the ground are doing their job. Moreover, let’s agree, they’re doing it properly and correctly.
Kommersant FM: But the situation in the Russian regions being swayed from abroad would be a question for the Kremlin, wouldn’t it?
Dmitry Peskov: Certainly. But no one will allow this.
Kommersant FM: And so, in the Kremlin’s opinion, is there a need to change how these rallies are handled, given these newly discovered facts?
Dmitry Peskov: The law enforcement officers on the ground are doing their job.