Navalny's wife flies to be with daughter after his death

Navalny's wife flies to be with daughter after his death
Navalny's wife flies to be with daughter after his death

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, lies down with her daughter Dasha Navalnaya, in an unknown location, in this picture obtained from social media, released on February 22, 2024. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Feb 22 — Alexei Navalny's wife Yulia said today that she and her daughter Dasha were together and comforting each other following the opposition politician's sudden death last week in a Russian penal colony.

As thousands of people added their names to petitions demanding the release of Navalny's body, Yulia Navalnaya posted a photograph on X showing her and Dasha, huddled together in mutual support.

Yulia was shown looking into the camera with her hand over her mouth, and Dasha wrapped in a black coat and gazing sadly into space.

"My dear girl. I flew here to hug you and support you, and you are sitting and supporting me. So strong, brave and resilient. We will definitely cope with everything, my dear one. It's so good that you're at my side. I love you," she wrote.

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It was not clear where and when the picture was taken. Navalnaya, 47, was in Munich last week when she learned of the death of her husband, Russia's best known opposition leader in the West.

Dasha, their older child, is a student at Stanford University in the United States. They also have a son, Zakhar.

Navalnaya has pledged to continue her husband's work and blamed President Vladimir Putin for his death, an allegation the Kremlin has angrily rejected.

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Putin has not commented publicly on the death of Navalny, who was serving sentences totalling more than 30 years on a series of charges, including fraud and extremism, that he said were trumped up to silence him.

The Kremlin has said it was not involved in his death, the circumstances of which it says remain under investigation.

Missing body

Authorities have yet to release the body to Navalny's mother Lyudmila, who has travelled to the Arctic penal colony where he was being held. She issued a video appeal to Putin to hand over her son immediately.

Lyudmila Navalnaya has also filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the body, but Russian state media have said her complaint will not be heard by a court until March 4.

Rights organisation OVD-Info said more than 83,000 people had signed a petition it drafted to Russia's Investigative Committee, urging it to inform Navalny's relatives where his body is, and to hand it over to them.

It did not publish the names of the signatories.

At least 800 people have signed a separate petition initiated by a group of Russian Orthodox priests, saying his family has the right to say farewell to Navalny and give him a Christian burial.

The petition urged the authorities to respect Navalny's memory, not only as an opposition politician but as a believer.

"Do not overshadow the tragedy of his death by refusing such a simple and humane request. Remember that everyone is equal before God," it said.

"Refusing to release the body of Alexei Navalny to his family will be perceived as a manifestation of ruthlessness and inhumanity. This decision could lead to even greater tension in society. We urge you not to go down this path."

Most of those who signed the priests' petition gave their full names despite the potential risk. According to OVD-Info, nearly 400 people in cities across Russia were detained at gatherings in memory of Navalny in the four days after his death.

The signatories' occupations ranged from lawyers and programmers to life coach and a barista. One described himself as an "opponent of tyranny" and another said she was "just a person who finds this situation painful". — Reuters

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