Navalny’s body released to his mother after she refused to negotiate over funeral ultimatum

World

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh has said.

“Alexei’s body was given to his mother. Thank you very much to everyone who demanded this with us,” she wrote on X.

She added that details of his funeral are yet to come, and it is unclear if authorities will “interfere” and whether it will be carried out as “the family wants and Alexei deserves”.

“We will provide information as it becomes available,” she said.

It comes after Mr Navalny’s mother was given an ultimatum yesterday, with Russian authorities saying he would be buried in the penal colony where he died unless she agreed within three hours to lay him to rest without a public funeral.

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Mr Navalny had been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and campaigned against official corruption. He also led major anti-Kremlin protests.

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His death in the penal colony on Friday 16 February prompted hundreds of people across Russia to attend memorials with flowers and candles.

While the cause of his death remains unknown, Western leaders including US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have made clear they hold Mr Putin responsible.

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From 22 February: Alexei Navalny’s mother shares update on son’s body.

Mr Navanly’s widow Yulia Navalnaya and his mother Lyudimila Navalnaya also blame the Russian regime for the death of the 47-year-old activist.

Earlier Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Mr Putin of mocking Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in a penal colony.

“No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with the body of Alexei,” she said, adding: “What will you do with his corpse? How low will you sink to mock the man you murdered?”

The widow also said in a video released Saturday that Lyudimila Navalnaya was being “literally tortured” by authorities who had threatened to bury her son in the Arctic prison.

She said authorities suggested to his mother that she didn’t have much time to make a decision because his body was decomposing.

“Give us the body of my husband,” Yulia Navalnaya said. “You tortured him alive, and now you keep torturing him dead. You mock the remains of the dead.”

It came after Mr Navalny’s mother said on Thursday that investigators had allowed her to see her son’s body in the morgue in the Arctic city of Salekhard.

She filed a lawsuit at a court in Salekhard contesting officials’ refusal to release the body, and a closed-door hearing had been scheduled for 4 March.

On Friday, Mr Navalny’s daughter Dasha shared a photo of her with her parents as a child, and the message: “I love you, kiss you, hug you tightly, and miss you very, very much.”

It was her first direct tribute to her father since his death was confirmed a week ago.

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