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Alexei Navalny's body has been turned over to his mother, an aide saysExBulletin

Alexei Navalny's body has been turned over to his mother, an aide saysExBulletin


A woman places a piece of paper with words of sorrow for Alexei Navalny as she pays her last respects at the Memorial to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday.

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

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Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

A woman places a piece of paper with words of sorrow for Alexei Navalny as she pays her last respects at the Memorial to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday.

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a senior Navalny aide said on his social media account on Saturday.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, made the announcement on his Telegram account and thanked “everyone” who had called on Russian authorities to return Navalny's body to his mother.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny's widow, accused President Vladimir Putin of making a mockery of Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in an Arctic penal colony.

“Thank you very much. Thank you to everyone who wrote and recorded video messages. You all did what you had to do. Thank you. Alexei Navalny's body has been given to his mother,” wrote Zhdanov.

Navalny, 47, Russia's most popular opposition politician, died suddenly on February 16 in an Arctic penal colony and his family has been fighting for more than a week to have his body returned to them. Prominent Russians released videos calling on authorities to release the body, and Western countries have hit Russia with more sanctions in retaliation for Navalny's death, as well as the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, is still in Salekhard, Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmysh said on X, once Twitter. Lyudmila Navalnaya has been in the Arctic region for more than a week, demanding that Russian authorities return her son's body.

“The funeral is still pending,” Yarmysh wrote on Twitter, asking if the authorities would allow him to proceed “as the family wants and as Alexei deserves.”

Earlier on Saturday, Navalny's widow said in a video that Navalny's mother was being “literally tortured” by authorities who had threatened to bury Navalny in the Arctic prison. They, she said, suggested to his mother that she didn't have much time to make a decision because the body was decomposing, Navalnaya said.

“Give us my husband's body,” Navalnaya said earlier Saturday. “You tortured him alive, and now you continue to torture him dead. You mock the bones of the dead.”

Navalny, 47, Russia's most popular opposition politician, died suddenly on February 16 in the penal colony, prompting hundreds of Russians across the country to pour into makeshift memorials with flowers and candles.

Authorities have arrested scores of people as they try to suppress any major outbursts of sympathy for Putin's staunchest foe ahead of a presidential election he is almost certain to win. Russians on social media say officials do not want to return Navalny's body to his family because they fear a public show of support for him.

Navalny accused Putin, an Orthodox Christian, of killing Navalny.

“No true Christian could ever do what Putin is doing now with Alexei's body,” she said, asking, “What are you going to do with his corpse? How low will you sink to mock the man you have killed?”

Saturday marked nine days since the opposition leader's death, a day when Orthodox Christians hold a memorial service.

People across Russia turned out to mark the occasion and honor Navalny's memory by gathering in Orthodox churches, laying flowers at public monuments or holding one-person protests.

Muscovites lined up outside the city's Cathedral of Christ the Savior to pay their respects, according to photos and videos published by independent Russian newspaper SOTAvision. The video also shows Russian police stationed nearby and officers stopping several people for an identity check.

As of early Saturday afternoon, at least 27 people had been arrested in nine Russian cities for showing support for Navalny, according to the rights group OVD-Info, which tracks political arrests.

They included Sergei Karabatov, 64, who laid flowers at a monument in Moscow to victims of political repression, along with a handwritten note saying “Don't think this is the end”. Also arrested was Aida Nuriyeva, from the city of Ufa near the Ural Mountains, who stood on a street with a sign reading “Putin is Navalny's killer! I demand the body back!”

Putin has often been photographed in church, plunging into ice water to celebrate Epiphany and visiting holy sites in Russia. He has promoted what he has called “traditional values” without which, he once said, “society degrades.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed allegations that Putin was involved in Navalny's death, calling them “absolutely baseless, brazen accusations against the Russian head of state.”

Musician Nadya Tolokonnikova, who rose to prominence after spending nearly two years in prison for taking part in a 2012 protest with her band Pussy Riot inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, was one of many prominent Russians to release a video in which she accused Putin of hypocrisy and asked him to release Navalny's body.

“We were jailed for allegedly violating traditional values. But no one violates traditional Russian values ​​more than you, Putin, your officials and your priests who pray for all the murders you do, year after year, day after day.” said. Tolokonnikova, who lives abroad. “Putin, have a conscience, give his mother the body of her son.”

Lyudmila Navalnaya said Thursday that investigators allowed her to see her son's body at the morgue in the Arctic town of Salekhard. She had filed a lawsuit in a court in Salekhard challenging the officials' refusal to release the body. A closed-door hearing was scheduled for March 4.

Yarmysh, Navalny's spokesman, said Lyudmila Navalnaya was shown a medical certificate saying her son died of “natural causes”.




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