Russia threatens to bury Alexei Navalny in the prison where he died, gives family ultimatum

Key Points
  • Navalny’s mother has been demanding that authorities hand over his body to be buried in a way that will allow his friends, family and supporters to pay their respects.
  • Navalny’s family and supporters have accused Putin of having him killed, an accusation that the Kremlin has rejected.
  • Putin makes a point of never mentioning Navalny’s name, and has not commented on the matter in public since his death.
Russian authorities are threatening to bury Alexei Navalny on the grounds of the Arctic prison colony where he died unless his family agrees to a closed funeral, the opposition leader’s team said on Friday.
The 47-year-old Kremlin critic died last week after spending more than , prompting outrage and condemnation from Western leaders and his supporters.
Several leading Russian cultural figures and activists have called on authorities to release the body to his mother, who arrived at the prison colony in northern Siberia last Saturday.
They include Nobel Prize-winning editor Dmitry Muratov, protest rock band Pussy Riot member and activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, writer Victor Shenderovich and movie director Andrey Zvyagintsev.
Almost 90,000 people sent online appeals to the Investigative Committee of Russia, demanding that Navalny’s body be returned to his family.
“An hour ago, an investigator called Alexei’s mother and gave her an ultimatum,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“She has three hours to agree to a secret funeral without a public farewell, or Alexei will be buried in the colony.”

His mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, “refused to negotiate… because they have no authority to decide how and where to bury her son”, Yarmysh added.
She has now filed a lawsuit alleging the “desecration” of his body, said Ivan Zhdanov, an exiled ally of the late leader.
Navalny’s team have said the Kremlin is “scared” of the opposition leader even after his death.
They believe the authorities do not want a public funeral as it would represent a show of support for Navalny’s movement against President Vladimir Putin.

They previously called Putin a “killer” who was trying to cover his tracks by not allowing independent forensic analysis of Navalny’s body.

Navalny died on 16 February in a colony beyond the Arctic Circle. He was 47 years old.
On 20 February, his mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, to Putin demanding that her son’s body be returned to her.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he would not comment on this because the release of the body “is not the Kremlin’s business”.

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