Navalny’s mother receives his body after long struggle with authorities

The mother of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has finally obtained his body from the authorities, who had been holding it for more than a week. Lyudmila Navalnaya, 69, was given the remains of her son on Saturday, according to his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh.

Navalny died in prison under mysterious circumstances

Alexei Navalny, who was the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, died on 16 February in a prison colony in the Arctic Circle, where he was serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for alleged fraud. His team and his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, accused the Kremlin of killing him with a nerve agent, similar to the one that was used to poison him in August 2020. The Russian authorities denied any involvement in his death and said he died of natural causes.

Navalny’s mother receives his body after long struggle with authorities

Navalny’s mother faced blackmail and pressure from the authorities

Lyudmila Navalnaya had been trying to retrieve her son’s body for more than a week, but faced blackmail and pressure from the authorities, who refused to hand it over unless she agreed to a secret funeral without a public farewell. She said she rejected the conditions set by the authorities, insisting on a public funeral for her son, who was a hero to millions of Russians. She also recorded several videos, appealing to the public and the international community to help her get her son’s body back.

Navalny’s supporters demanded his body and a public funeral

Navalny’s death sparked an outcry among his supporters, who demanded his body and a public funeral. More than 82,000 people signed a petition to the Russian Investigative Committee, asking for Navalny’s body to be handed to his family. At least 800 people, including a group of Russian Orthodox priests, signed a separate petition, saying his family had the right to say farewell to Navalny and give him a Christian burial. They also urged the authorities to respect his dignity and not to mock the dead.

Navalny’s funeral plans are still unclear

Yarmysh said the funeral plans were still unclear and that she did not know if the authorities would interfere with them. She thanked “all those who had demanded” the return of Navalny’s body and said the family wanted to bury him “as Alexei deserves”. Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya accused Putin of mocking Christianity and holding her husband’s body “hostage”. She demanded his body without conditions and said: “You tortured him alive, and now you keep torturing him dead. You mock the remains of the dead.”

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