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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Funeral Ceremony for Alexei Navalny Scheduled for Friday in Moscow

Alexei Navalny’s burial is confirmed to take place in Moscow on Friday, according to a spokesperson. The ceremony will be conducted at Borisovskoye Cemetery following a farewell service at a Moscow church.

In a Wednesday speech, Yulia, the widow of the opposition leader, expressed uncertainty about the funeral’s tranquility, questioning whether the police might arrest those bidding their farewells. Navalny passed away unexpectedly in an Arctic prison earlier this month.

For years, Navalny had been the most prominent critic of Vladimir Putin. His widow, along with many world leaders, holds the Russian president responsible for his death. Despite the lack of specific details on the cause of death, Russian authorities initially hesitated to release Navalny’s body to his mother, Lyudmila, relenting eight days after his demise.

Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, revealed on Tuesday that the team faced challenges finding a venue for the ceremony. Some funeral homes claimed full bookings, while others declined involvement upon learning about the event’s nature. Yarmysh posted on social media that one place mentioned funeral agencies were forbidden from collaborating with them.

Details about the funeral emerged as Yulia Navalnaya addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg. She condemned Russia’s “brutal and sneaky” war in Ukraine, criticizing the ineffectiveness of the West’s strategies against Russia. Urging MEPs to draw inspiration from her late husband, she described him as an “inventor” with constant new ideas, especially in politics. Encouraging them to break free from monotony, she stated, “You have to stop being boring.”

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Originally, Navalny’s team aimed to conduct the funeral on 29 February, but encountered difficulties finding someone available to dig a grave on that day, as mentioned by Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Zhdanov suggested that the unavailability might be linked to President Putin’s scheduled major speech on the same day, speculating that the Kremlin anticipated a lack of public attention on Putin during Navalny’s farewell.

Zhdanov urged people to arrive early to have the opportunity to bid farewell to Alexei. The schedule includes a morning farewell ceremony, a funeral service at 14:00 (11:00 GMT), and burial at 16:00 (13:00 GMT).

Since Navalny’s demise in an Arctic penal colony on 16 February, around 400 individuals across Russia have been arrested by OVO-Info, a human rights group, for laying flowers in his memory. Given this, the funeral on Friday is expected to witness a significant police presence.

Earlier in the week, an ally of Navalny claimed he was on the verge of being released in a prisoner swap before his death, alleging that President Putin changed his decision at the last moment. The Kremlin denied knowledge of such a deal.

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