Two participants in rallies supporting an ousted local governor in Russia’s Far East are facing prison time, after exceeding the number of times an individual can be fined for administrative offenses in a short period of time.

According to Russia’s so-called ‘Dadin Law’, activists Alexander Prikhodko and Anastasia Subbotnikova could both receive sentences of up to five years for their roles in the Khabarovsk protests. The city rose up in support of popular regional Governor Sergey Furgal, from the far-right LDPR party, after he was arrested on suspicion of ordering two successful murders, and a third failed killing, in the mid-2000s, and taken to Moscow, over 6,000km to the West. 

In 2015, Igor Dadin, a political activist from Moscow, was the first person in Russia to be imprisoned under the regulation, which stated that anyone on the receiving end of two administrative court rulings within 180 days could be sent to prison. Administrative offenses are those which are typically punished with a fine. He was released after 15 months.

Now, both Prikhodko and Subbotnikova face prosecution under the same law. Prikhodko’s battles with the rulebook go even further than two fines in 180 days, having been punished three times in six months for violating the regulations regarding unauthorized protests.

Aside from facing punishment under the ‘Dadin Law’, there has been a second criminal case initiated against Subbotnikova, who is also accused of violence against a police officer. Subbotnikova is in custody, whereas Prikhodko has been released.

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Protests in Khabarovsk, began on July 11, two days after the arrest of Furgal. He is currently detained at Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention center. In Khabarovsk, many locals are furious that their elected leader was removed by federal authorities, and flown to the far-away capital.

Furgal, a highly popular politician in the Far East, became the governor of the Khabarovsk region in 2018, defeating competition from the ruling United Russia party. His popularity continued throughout his governorship, and last year he led his ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic party to a landslide victory in regional parliament elections.

Protests have been occurring regularly ever since Furgal’s arrest, and remained mostly peaceful throughout the summer. In October, for the first time since demonstrations began, law enforcement used force to break up a rally.

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