Funeral for Alexei Navalny scheduled for Friday

A spokesperson for Alexei Navalny's family said his funeral will take place in Moscow after several locations declined to host the service.

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World News

February 28, 2024 - 2:19 PM

A flower and a picture are left as a tribute to Russian politician Alexei Navalny, near to the Russian Embassy in London, Feb. 18. The U.S. government is hitting Russia with the largest tranche of financial penalties imposed on Moscow since its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Photo by AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File

The funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier this month in a remote Arctic penal colony, will take place on Friday in Moscow after several locations declined to host the service, his spokesperson said.

His funeral will be held at a church in Moscow’s southeast Maryino district on Friday afternoon, Kira Yarmysh said Wednesday. The burial is to be at a nearby cemetery.

Navalny died in mid-February in one of Russia’s harshest penal facilities. Russian authorities said the cause of his death at age 47 is still unknown, and the results of any investigation are likely to be questioned abroad. Many Western leaders have already said they hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for his death.

Yarmysh spoke of the difficulties his team encountered in trying to find a site for a “farewell event” for Navalny.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said most venues said they were fully booked, with some “refusing when we mention the surname ‘Navalny,” and one disclosing that “funeral agencies were forbidden to work with us.”

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the funeral was initially planned for Thursday –- the day of Putin’s annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly -– but no venue would agree to hold it then.

“The real reason is clear. The Kremlin understands that nobody will need Putin and his message on the day we say farewell to Alexei,” Zhdanov wrote on Telegram.

In an interview with the independent Russian news site Meduza on Wednesday, Zhdanov said authorities were pressuring Navalny’s relatives to “have a quiet family funeral” and move the burial to the Khovanskoye cemetery on Moscow’s southwestern outskirts.

“They are again blackmailing relatives and saying: either hold a quiet family funeral, or nothing will really work out for you,” Zhdanov said.

He said Navalny’s lawyer, Vasily Dubkov, who helped Navalny’s mother retrieve her son’s body, was briefly detained on Tuesday “as some kind of suspicious person” when he went to visit the morgue, where Zhdanov said there currently is a strong police presence.

Zhadov declined to comment on the circumstances of Navalny’s death, but repeated claims by close Navalny associate Maria Pevchikh that there had been negotiations for a possible prisoner exchange involving Navalny before his death.

The exchange “was at the final stage” and would have taken place “with the mediation of the United Arab Emirates and Roman Abramovich,” Zhdanov said.

Claims about negotiations for a prisoner exchange, which were repeated on social media by other Navalny aides, could not be independently confirmed.

Shortly after the announcement of the funeral plans, Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, addressed European lawmakers in Strasbourg.

Speaking at the European Parliament, she confirmed that her husband would be buried on Friday and expressed fears that the police might interfere.

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