Navalny's funeral held in Moscow amid tight security as supporters rally

Mourners outside the Soothe My Sorrows church, where a funeral service for Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was held, in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2024. (Photo/Reuters)

Many Russians chanted opposition politician Alexei Navalny's name and said they would not forgive the authorities for his death as his mother and father attended a small funeral in a Moscow church surrounded by police.

A photograph of Navalny released on social media showed his body lying inside a flower-laden coffin on Friday as his mother, wearing a black headscarf and with a candle in one hand, sat alongside his father nearby.

'We're all here together'

Prominent Russian opposition figure Navalny died at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony on February 16, sparking accusations from his supporters that he had been murdered. The Kremlin has denied any state involvement in his death.

The authorities have outlawed his movement as extremist and cast his supporters as US-backed troublemakers out to foment revolution.

His funeral comes two weeks before a presidential election when Putin, Russia's leader for over 20 years, is expected to easily win another six-year term.

"We're all here together," one man, who did not give his name, told a reporter from the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. "I'm here to support his family and show that they are not alone."

Cemetery sealed

Navalny's body was driven to the Borisovskoye cemetery, around 2.5 km (1.5 miles) away on the other side of the Moskva River. The cemetery was sealed off with crash barriers.

More than a quarter of a million people watched the events on Navalny's YouTube channel. Messages, mostly expressing sadness but some also defiance, streamed down beside the video.

Allies of Navalny outside Russia have called on people who want to honour his memory but could not attend his funeral service to instead go to memorials to Soviet-era repression in their own towns on Friday evening at 7 p.m. local time.

The Kremlin said any unsanctioned gatherings in support of Navalny would violate the law.

"Just a reminder that we have a law that must be followed. Any unauthorised gatherings will be in violation of the law, and those who participate in them will be held accountable - again, in line with the current law," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Rights groups advice

While Navalny's mother Lyudmila, 69, attended the funeral along with his father Anatoly, his wife Yulia and two children, who are living outside Russia, did not attend.

Rights groups had advised those who wanted to attend to take their passports and small bottles of water with them and told them to write down the details of lawyers who can help them in case they are detained.

Navalny was a Christian who condemned the Kremlin's decision to send troops into Ukraine.

Navalny's allies have accused Putin of having him murdered because the Russian leader could allegedly not tolerate the thought of Navalny being freed in a potential prisoner swap.

They have not published proof to back up that accusation, but have promised to set out how he was murdered and by whom.

The Kremlin has denied state involvement in his death and has said it is unaware of any agreement to free Navalny. His death certificate - according to allies - said he died of natural causes.


Source: TRT