Top NewsAlexei Navalny's body was handed over to his mother...

Alexei Navalny's body was handed over to his mother for burial in Russia

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RIGA, Latvia — Russian authorities handed over the body of opposition leader Alexei Navalny to his mother on Saturday after a week of fighting to recover it, his political group said.

Russian celebrities, artists, activists and journalists have recorded video appeals to President Vladimir Putin in recent days to hand over Navalny's body to his family, and 98,000 Russians have signed a petition organized by the legal rights group OVD-Info.

The aide says Russian authorities are threatening to bury Navalny in a prison colony

Earlier on Saturday, Navalny's daughter Dasha Navalnaya, 23, joined the campaign. Posting On X, earlier on Twitter, “Give my dad's body to grandma.”

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmish, who announced the breakthrough, said it was unclear whether authorities would interfere with the funeral.

Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, has expressed her wish that he be flown to Moscow for a public farewell service, as is traditional in Russia, and that his funeral and burial take place at Troykhorovskoe Cemetery. Including opposition figures, have been buried.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on February 16, Russia's prison service said. His death shocked world leaders. (Video: The Washington Post)

Navalnaya previously said Russia's investigative body, its main federal investigative commission, pressured him to agree to a small, private funeral, attended only by family members.

“The funeral is yet to take place. We don't know if the authorities will prevent the treatment the family wants and Alexey deserves. We will report as information becomes available,” Yarmish said. She thanked the thousands of Russians who supported Navalnaya's campaign to recover her son's body.

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Navalny, 47, was Putin's most formidable rival and one of the country's most prominent political prisoners. He was imprisoned for campaigning for a free and democratic Russia and died on February 16 in the “Polar Wolf” prison in the Yamalo-Nenets region, north of the Arctic Circle.

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Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, had accused Putin of murdering her husband and delaying handing over the body to cover up the cause of death. A death certificate issued later in the week listed his cause of death as “natural causes.”

According to Ivan Zhdano, director of Navalny's anti-corruption foundation, Russian authorities would not hand over the body to the family by Friday, threatening instead to bury it in icy ground in a remote northern prison colony.

Doing so would have denied his family and supporters the right to a funeral and farewell ceremony, and would have prevented his grave from becoming a place where Russians honor Navalny and his courage in defying Putin.

Lyudmila Navalnaya Feb. After going to the prison to retrieve the body on the 17th, he faced an eight-day Kafkaesque battle with the Inquisitors to bury his son.

Initially, she and her lawyers faced a brick wall as authorities barred them from entering the mortuary and refused to tell them where the body was kept. A prison official initially told her that her son had died of “sudden death syndrome”.

A few days later, with the official cause of death listed as “natural causes”, coroner officials showed him his body late at night. But with no lawyers, they pressured her into agreeing to a small private funeral, threatening to allow her body to be disinterred if she didn't agree to their terms.

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On Thursday, he released a video saying, “The authorities are threatening me, imposing conditions on where, when and how to bury Alexei. It is illegal,” he said.

On Friday, she was given a three-hour ultimatum and told, according to Zhdano, that Navalny would be buried without her permission in the prison colony unless she agreed to a private burial.

But she did not agree.

The decision to hand over her son's body to Lyudmila Navalnaya marked a rare victory for a person facing Russian power, but it also pointed to the extent to which an improper public stance is damaging to the Kremlin.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, dressed in black, recorded a scathing video message attacking Putin's religious piety as a sham, accusing both of her husband's “murder” and refusing to bury his body.

“But killing is not enough for Putin. Now [Navalny’s] The body is held hostage. He taunts his mother and forces her to agree to a secret funeral,” he said. “… they threaten to bury him in the colony where they killed him.”

She said the authorities “tortured” Lyudmila Navalnaya with lies and threats for several days. The order to “break” Navalnaya's mother would have come directly from Putin, not from an intelligence officer in Salekhard, 33 miles from the prison where she died, he continued. Navalny's body had been kept at the Salekhard Mortuary since the night of his death.

Yulia Navalnaya said that Putin is now exposed as a fraud.

“We already knew that Putin's faith was fake. But now more than ever we see it clearly,” he said. “No true Christian could do what Putin is doing to Alexei's body.”

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