Funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to be held on Friday, his spokesperson says

His funeral will be held at a church in Moscow's southeast Maryino district on Friday afternoon, Kira Yarmysh said Wednesday. The burial is to be at a nearby cemetery.
Flowers and candles are laid around a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a rally to commemorate him, at Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio city council square, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024
Flowers and candles are laid around a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a rally to commemorate him, at Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio city council square, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024Photo | AP

The funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier this month in a remote Arctic penal colony, will take place on Friday in Moscow after several locations declined to host the service, his spokesperson said.

His funeral will be held at a church in Moscow's southeast Maryino district on Friday afternoon, Kira Yarmysh said Wednesday. The burial is to be at a nearby cemetery.

Navalny died in mid-February in one of Russia's harshest penal facilities. Russian authorities said the cause of his death at age 47 is still unknown, and the results of any investigation are likely to be questioned abroad. Many Western leaders have already said they hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for his death.

Yarmysh spoke of the difficulties his team encountered in trying to find a site for a "farewell event" for Navalny.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said most venues said they were fully booked, with some "refusing when we mention the surname 'Navalny," and one disclosing that "funeral agencies were forbidden to work with us."

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Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the funeral was initially planned for Thursday—the day of Putin's annual address to Russia's Federal Assembly—but no venue would agree to hold it then.

"The real reason is clear. The Kremlin understands that nobody will need Putin and his message on the day we say farewell to Alexei," Zhdanov wrote on Telegram.

Shortly after the announcement of the funeral plans, Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, addressed European lawmakers in Strasbourg.

Speaking at the European Parliament, she confirmed that her husband would be buried on Friday and expressed fears that the police might interfere.

"I'm not sure yet whether it will be peaceful or whether police will arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband," she said.

At some points, appearing tearful amid applause from lawmakers but largely resolute, Navalnaya said her husband's death "showed everyone that Putin is capable of anything and that you cannot negotiate with him."

She appealed to the European Parliament to be "innovative" in its approach to the Russian president and those close to him.

"You cannot hurt Putin with another resolution or another set of sanctions," she said, urging lawmakers instead to "apply the methods of fighting organised crime, not political competition."

She asked the parliament to investigate "financial machinations" and "mafia associates" in their countries and "discreet lawyers and financiers who are helping Putin and his friends to hide money."

In introducing Navalnaya, the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, paid tribute to Navalny.

"For many in Russia and outside, he represented hope. Hope in better days. Hope in a free Russia. Hope in the future," she said.

Navalnaya and Navalny were married for more than 20 years, and she was by his side as he helped lead the biggest protests in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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