Navalny laid to rest in Moscow cemetery as hundreds gather

Navalny laid to rest in Moscow cemetery as hundreds gather
Navalny laid to rest in Moscow cemetery as hundreds gather

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MOSCOW — The coffin carrying the remains of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was lowered into the ground of a Moscow cemetery on Friday, his allies said.

Relatives and supporters of the late opposition figure bade farewell to Navalny at a funeral on Friday in south-eastern Moscow, following a battle with authorities over the release of his body after his still-unexplained death in an Arctic penal colony.

As his coffin was removed from the hearse and taken inside the church, the crowd waiting outside broke into respectful applause and then chanted: “Navalny! Navalny!” Some also shouted, “You weren’t afraid, neither are we!” and later “No to war!”

A photo from inside the church showed an open casket with Navalny’s body covered with red and white flowers, and his mother sitting beside it holding a candle.

His supporters said several churches in Moscow refused to hold the service before Navalny’s team got permission from one in the capital’s Maryino district, where he once lived before his 2020 poisoning, treatment in Germany and subsequent arrest on his return to Russia.

His mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, spent eight days trying to get authorities to release the body following his 16 February death at Penal Colony No. 3 in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenets region about 1,900 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Authorities originally said they couldn't turn over the body because they needed to conduct post-mortem tests. Navalnaya, 69, made to President Vladimir Putin to release the body so she could bury her son with dignity.

Once it was released, at least one funeral director said he had been “forbidden” to work with Navalny’s supporters, the spokeswoman for Navalny's team, Kira Yarmysh, said on social media. They also were unable to find a hearse for the funeral.

“Unknown people are calling up people and threatening them not to take Alexei’s body anywhere,” Yarmysh said Thursday.

Russian authorities haven’t announced the cause of death for Navalny, 47, who crusaded against official corruption and organized big protests as Putin’s fiercest political foe. Many Western leaders (blamed the death on the Russian leader, which the Kremlin rejected).

Western diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Lynn Tracy, were among those who attended, along with presidential hopefuls Boris Nadezhdin and Yekaterina Duntsova. Navalny's father was also present, but it wasn't clear who else in his family attended, with many of his relatives and associates in exile abroad due to fear of prosecution in Russia.

Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his regional offices were designated as “extremist organizations” by the Russian government in 2021.

The politician’s team said the funeral would have been streamed live on Navalny’s YouTube channel.

His widow accused Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of trying to block a public funeral.

“We don’t want any special treatment — just to give people the opportunity to say farewell to Alexei in a normal way,” Yulia Navalnaya wrote on X. In a speech to European lawmakers Wednesday in Strasbourg, France, she also expressed fears that police might interfere with the gathering or would "arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband.” — Euronews


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