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Alexei Navalny rests at Moscow cemetery under tight security, thousands mourn his death


NEW DELHI: Thousands of Russians gathered in Moscow on Friday to mourn the death of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Navalny’s mother and father attended a small funeral at a Moscow church, surrounded by police. A photograph of Navalny’s body in a coffin laden with flowers circulated on social media. Inside the church, an Orthodox priest celebrated a brief mass while outside, people chanted Navalny’s name.
After the funeral, some chanted slogans such as “Russia will be free” and “Putin is a murderer.” Navalny, known as President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic, died on February 16 at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony. His supporters believe he was assassinated, while the Kremlin denies any state involvement. Navalny’s movement was banned as extremist and his supporters were labeled US-backed troublemakers.
The funeral came ahead of a presidential election in which Putin is expected to win another six-year term. Security was tight at the church, with people lining up in an orderly manner to pay their respects. Mourners expressed support for Navalny’s family and praised Navalny for his fearlessness and his remarks against the authorities. Navalny’s body was then taken to the Borisovskoye cemetery.
More than a quarter of a million people watched the events on Navalny’s blocked YouTube channel. Navalny’s allies outside Russia have called on people to attend memorials to Soviet-era repression in their own cities.
The Kremlin has warned that any unauthorized gatherings in support of Navalny would violate the law. Navalny’s wife and children, who live outside Russia, did not attend the funeral. Rights groups have advised mourners to bring their passports and water, as well as contact details for lawyers in case of arrest.
Navalny was a Christian who criticized Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine. The church hosting his funeral supported the Russian army and the war. Navalny’s allies have accused Putin of having him assassinated to prevent his release in a prisoner exchange.
The Kremlin denies any involvement in his death. Navalny was a prominent figure in Russian politics, organizing protests and speaking out against corruption. He faced several criminal charges, which he said were politically motivated. He returned to Russia in 2021 after being treated for poisoning in Germany and was immediately arrested. Putin has not commented on Navalny’s death and has rarely mentioned him by name in the past.


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