‘There’s no evidence in the case at all’ Jailed ex-governor Sergey Furgal’s ‘Kommersant’ interview, in a nutshell
On Monday, April 5, the Russian business newspaper Kommersant published an interview with Sergey Furgal, the jailed former governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk territory, who was arrested in July 2020 on charges of organizing multiple murders in the early 2000s. Furgal’s arrest prompted large-scale protests in the regional capital that continued into the fall of last year. Today, he remains in pre-trial custody in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison. In conversation with Kommersant, Furgal discussed the case against him, its alleged connection to his business dealings, and more. Here’s what he said, in a nutshell.
Since the moment of my arrest they’ve exerted colossal pressure on me: they deprived me of communications and have threatened to jail my close relatives. My case was ordered, I haven’t committed any crimes, and plea deals in exchange for throwing out the case are unacceptable to me. There’s no evidence in the case at all. The accusations are based on the testimonies of two people: the former police officer Vladimir Pershin, who was was in prison for extortion and blackmail, and my former business partner Nikolai Mistryukov, who’s sitting in the Lefortovo Prison without access to lawyers and who, after “certain actions,” accepted the investigators’ version of the events. My case is directly linked to the business conflict over the Amurstal steel plant. The Investigative Committee took an interest in me after Mistryukov, while in Lefortovo, handed over his 25 percent share in the enterprise to Pavel Balsky. Through manipulation, Balsky took my ex-wife’s share in the plant and now owns nearly 100 percent of Amurstal. It’s difficult to say whether or not he’s the ultimate beneficiary, but the plant was seized under his leadership. As governor, I adhered exclusively to the interests of the residents of the Khabarovsk territory, I did everything to make life better and people didn’t go anywhere. As for the protests in support of me, I was in plain sight, people saw everything and assessed it themselves. In the pre-trial detention center, I’m not demanding when it comes to everyday matters. But when they try to make a citizen, you or me, a contingent, it deepens my sense of justice.
This is a summary of Sergey Furgal’s “Kommersant” interview, which you can read in Russian here. Phrases written in the first person aren’t necessarily verbatim quotes.
Translation by Eilish Hart
Cover Photo: Sergey Karpukhin / TASS / Scanpix / LETA