Sunday, July 19, 2020

Petty Fight about Property Behind Putin’s Move Against Khabarovsk Leader, Igonin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Commentators have been debating why the Kremlin decided to charge Khabarovsk governor Sergey Furgal with a crime so that it could remove him from his post. Most suggest that Putin objected to the presence of a governor from a party other than United Russia and one who was obviously more popular in his region than the Kremlin leader.

But as popular protests against that enter their sixty day, one observer says, the real reason is both simpler and does even less credit to the Russian president. Furgal was ousted, Sergey Igonin says, because of a fight over property between him and Putin allies, the Rotenbergs (

Until the end of 2019, Furgal and his allies controlled 50 percent of the Amurstal company, while the Rotenbergs controlled the other half.  Then, Furgal’s ally was arrested and confined to Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison where Furgal now finds himself.  Under pressure, Furgal’s ally has agreed to testify against Furgal. Thus, the company will pass to Putin’s friends.

In fact, the Rotenbergs gained effective control after Furgal’s ally was arrested, and they immediately began laying off workers so as to improve their profits.  Furgal resisted their efforts but could not block them because he had become a minority shareholder. Nonetheless, his resistance added to his popularity.

“Everything in this world and in our country occurs because of money,” Ignonin says. “And in Khabarovsk Kray, everything is linked to the Amurstal factory.” That and not some broader political agenda is what is behind the recent events, although “no one expected that people would go into the streets.”

That has called attention to this dirty game about which he provides dates, names and profits, Ignonin says, even though many prefer to ignore that and speculate about the supposedly high politics involved. 

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