The newly appointed acting governor of Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk Territory, Mikhail Degtyarev, does not intend to meet with protesters, who have been carrying out sustained demonstrations in Khabarovsk for nearly two weeks.
“In general, there are things for the leader to actually do here, rather than going out and talking to those people who are shouting from their windows,” Degtyarev told reporters following a visit to a local hospital.
“I’m not going out there. I go out to the people all the time, but I talk with people in the correct formats. With you, for example, with the doctors today, with the patients. But going out to a group of comrades like that, on demand. It’s disrespectful, not just to me and the president [...] but namely, to these people themselves. Those who do this don’t respect themselves,” Degtyarev told Interfax.
Asked about Degtyarev’s apparent refusal to speak with protesters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave the following response: “Degtyarev has been working in the region for only a few days. It’s obvious that many operational cases have accumulated there, which require urgent solutions to actually ensure that the region’s agriculture and the region’s economy is, in fact, functioning in the interests of citizens and residents of the region. This is what the acting governor is prioritizing now.” Peskov underscored that no one is refusing to communicate with citizens.
Mikhail Degtyarev — a State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) — was appointed acting governor of the Khabarovsk Territory on July 20. He replaced popularly elected governor Sergey Furgal, who was arrested on July 9, on suspicion of organizing multiple contract killings in 2004–2005. Major protests in defense of Furgal began in Khabarovsk following his arrest. After Degtyarev’s appointment, the protesters began demanding that he step down from the post of acting regional head. On July 22, Degtyarev responded on Instagram, saying “I’m not leaving!”