Alexei Navalny’s funeral to take place Friday in Moscow

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Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s funeral service and burial will take place in Moscow on Friday, his spokesperson said, but his allies accused the Kremlin of thwarting their attempts to organize a bigger event a day earlier.

Kira Yarmysh, his spokesperson, posted on X that a service for Navalny would be held on Friday at 2 p.m. Moscow time (6 a.m. ET) in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in the Moscow district of Maryino where Navalny used to live.

Navalny would then be buried at the Borisovskoye cemetery, which is located on the other side of the Moskva River to the south, Yarmysh said.

Such services, presided over by a priest and accompanied by choral singing, usually allow people to file past the open casket of the deceased to say their farewell. The chosen Russian Orthodox church is an imposing five-domed white building in a built-up suburb of southeastern Moscow.

It was not immediately clear how the authorities would ensure crowd control.

Yulia Navalnaya, his widow, said she was not sure whether the funeral service would be peaceful or whether the police would make arrests. She made her comments to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, where she was greeted with a standing ovation. 

WATCH l Navalnaya says preparations for funeral have been met with obstacles:

Navalny’s widow ‘not sure’ if Russian police will allow his funeral to be peaceful

In an address to European lawmakers, Yulia Navalnaya describes the delays and obstacles from Russian authorities since her husband’s Feb. 16 death.

Judging from previous gatherings of Navalny supporters — whom the authorities have designated as U.S.-backed extremists — a heavy police presence is likely and the authorities will break up anything they deem to resemble a political demonstration under protest laws.

Navalny, 47, died at an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16. He was the latest of a series of Russian politicians and dissidents critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin to have died suddenly, or at a young age.

Navalny and his organization faced a number of criminal cases on charges of terrorism and corruption that his supporters and many Western leaders say were politically motivated.

The Kremlin has denied state involvement in his death and has said it is unaware of any agreement to free Navalny prior to his death.

LISTEN | Was Navalny killed before a prisoner swap could happen?

As It Happens6:20Was Navalny killed to avoid a prisoner swap? It’s possible, says Russia expert

An ally of Alexei Navalny contends that Russian President Vladimir Putin had the opposition activist killed to avoid freeing him in a planned prisoner swap. Marcus Kolga, an expert on Russian issues at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, says that’s impossible to prove — but not implausible. He spoke to As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong.

Yulia Navalnaya urged European politicians and officials to investigate financial flows in the West linked to Putin and his allies.

“Putin is the leader of an organized criminal gang. This includes poisoners and assassins but they’re just puppets. The most important thing is the people close to Putin — his friends, associates and keepers of mafia money,” she said.

“You and all of us must fight the criminal gang. And the political innovation here is to apply the methods of fighting organized crime, not political competition. Not statements of concern but the search for … discreet lawyers and financiers who are helping Putin and his friends to hide money.”

WATCH l Ukraine official tells CBC he believes Russian government is ‘100% responsible’:

Ukrainian military official cites Russian prison conditions in Navalny’s death

Lt.-Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of defence intelligence in Ukraine, told CBC’s Margaret Evans that he believes Russia told the truth about how opposition leader Alexei Navalny died — but stressed Russia’s guilt, saying that keeping Navalny in jail led to his death.

Navalnaya currently lives outside of Russia, but after her husband’s death has vowed to “continue the work of Alexei Navalny.” She has met with several world leaders since Feb. 16, including U.S. President Joe Biden in Calfornia.

Allies angered by funeral obstacles

Navalny’s death certificate, according to supporters, said he died of natural causes.

His mother last week accused the authorities of trying to blackmail her into holding a private funeral for her son by initially withholding his body, an assertion the Kremlin called absurd.

A woman wearing a winter hat and scarf is shown placing something at a stone monument outdoors.
A woman places a piece of paper with words of grief for Alexei Navalny at the Memorial to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday. (Dmitri Lovetsky/The Associated Press)

Navalny’s allies had been looking for a hall to accommodate his supporters at a farewell ceremony, but said they had been refused everywhere.

“Initially we planned the farewell and funeral for [Thursday] February 29th. It quickly became clear that there was not a single person who could dig a grave by the 29th of February,” Ivan Zhdanov, a Navalny ally, wrote on X.

Putin is due to deliver a speech on Thursday to Russia’s political elite, and Zhdanov accused the authorities of not wanting Navalny’s funeral to take place on the same day and overshadow it.

Zhdanov also accused the authorities of blocking attempts to secure a large hall for supporters to bid farewell to Navalny.

“Bastards. They won’t give us the date we want. They won’t give us the hall. Everyone will say goodbye to Alexei anyway,” wrote Zhdanov, who is outside Russia.



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