A group of Russian sociologists led by Sergey Belanovsky conducted a study of the reasons for the mass protests in Khabarovsk. Sociologist Anastasia Nikolskaya made a brief conclusion on the results of the numerous interviews that sociologists made with the protesters:
“The long accumulated claims of residents of the Khabarovsk Territory to the federal center led to the failure of United Russia in the governor elections, when citizens cast their votes to an unknown candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Sergey Furgal, in order to prevent the previous governor Vyacheslav Shport from power, perceived as a protege of the Kremlin seeking to rob the region.
Furgal's unexpected victory for citizens in the second round of voting becomes for them a symbol of the independence from the Kremlin's decisions, and the governor himself - a symbol of opposition to the federal government.
At the same time, Furgal turns out to be a good governor, a leader of the type for which the country has long matured a demand: open, making the actions of the authorities transparent, thinking about the welfare of the population, respecting the needs of the population, doing real business. All this contributed to the rapid growth of the governor's rating.
Accordingly, his arrest was an insult for the citizens, thrown at them by the federal authorities.
Against the background of long-standing irritation towards the federal government, most of the Khabarovsk residents believe that the demonstrative arrest of the governor is due either to the Kremlin's revenge for Furgal's success in his post and his growing popularity, or to fear that Furgal did not integrate into the corruption system built by the Kremlin. when, in exchange for loyalty and support of the power vertical, the Kremlin turns a blind eye to the corruption of major regional officials. Furgal, in the opinion of his voters, managed to achieve success outside and in spite of the seemingly unshakable Kremlin system, which cannot but frighten the federal authorities.
It was this circumstance, working outside the system for the benefit of the region, that made citizens feel that the governor was on their side. And that is why people perceived his arrest as a personal insult, which led to spontaneous protests that were not behind any structure.
The governor's massive support has led to a sense of unity and pride in his fellow citizens. This, in turn, contributed to the firm awareness that the confrontation will continue in one form or another.
It is also important to note that the described conflict is of the value type. This is not a struggle for regional resources, which, according to the Khabarovsk residents, are being taken away from the edge by the Kremlin. For 9 years (from 2009 to 2018) people endured the governorship of Shport, under whom the corruption flourished and federal money was "cut". According to our respondents, it was the disrespect of the federal authorities for their freedom to choose a governor and support the governor they like that triggered protest behavior. Value conflicts cannot be "extinguished" with money, and they tend to be the most irreconcilable.
The value for which the struggle is now being waged in the Khabarovsk Territory is the interaction between the people and the authorities based on respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as transparency and accountability of the authorities. Furgal showed that such interaction is possible. However, the power vertical system built by the Kremlin is not ready for such interaction, relying by inertia partly on paternalism, and partly on permissiveness, which the population largely continues to tolerate in exchange for stability.
This continuing divergence of values between the people and the authorities, given the growing dissatisfaction with the actions of the federal authorities almost everywhere, can lead to the expansion of the borders of the conflict and an increase in the number of its participants, splashing out far beyond the Khabarovsk Territory..."