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PUTIN CRITIC

Thousands of Russians mourn Navalny at funeral, defying Kremlin

Thousands of Russians mourn Navalny at funeral, defying Kremlin
Funeral service workers bring the coffin of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny inside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God, during his funerals in Moscow, Russia, 01 March 2024. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

Thousands of people lined up to pay their final respects at the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday, in defiance of a heavy police presence aimed at deterring protests against President Vladimir Putin.

Mourners chanted “Navalny” and “we won’t forgive” as his coffin was brought to the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow’s southeastern Marino district. Some shouted “Putin is a killer” as the Kremlin critic’s body was carried out after the service for burial at the nearby Borisov cemetery.

Riot police were stationed outside the church and at the cemetery, as authorities threatened punishment for any unsanctioned gathering. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin had nothing to say about Navalny, in response to questions from reporters, the Interfax news service reported.

Funeral service workers carry the coffin of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God, Moscow, Russia, 1 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEI ILNITSKY)

People outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God ahead of the funeral of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Moscow, Russia, 1 March 2024. (Photo: A-EFE / MAXIM SHIPENKOV)

People outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God prior the funeral of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Moscow, Russia, 1 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / MAXIM SHIPENKOV)

US President Joe Biden and European leaders have joined Navalny’s family and allies in blaming Putin for the activist’s Feb. 16 death in an Arctic prison camp. Ambassadors from the US and a number of European states joined those gathered outside for the funeral.

The crowds turned out in defiance of an unprecedented Kremlin crackdown on dissent in recent years, in a display of discontent with Putin’s nearly quarter-century rule and as Russia is waging war in Ukraine. The funeral was held a day after Putin set out plans for his next six years in power, in an address to Russia’s Federal Assembly ahead of the March 15-17 presidential election.

The US and Europe responded to the death of Putin’s most formidable domestic opponent by imposing sanctions on Russia that have had a largely symbolic impact.

Russian police have arrested hundreds of people in Moscow and other cities for laying flowers at makeshift memorials to Navalny since his death.

Funeral service workers bring the coffin of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny inside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God, during his funerals in Moscow, Russia, 1 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEI ILNITSKY)

State media have almost completely ignored the fallout from Navalny’s demise. In contrast, it devoted extensive coverage to the death this week of former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, aged 94, who was also being buried on Friday following a memorial service at Moscow’s main Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

Navalny’s widow, Yulia, didn’t attend his funeral after aides said it would be unsafe for her to return to Russia from Europe. She denounced Putin as the “leader of an organized, criminal gang” in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday, and has said she plans to continue her husband’s fight against the Kremlin.

Penitentiary officials said Navalny, 47, died after falling ill at the maximum-security prison where he was serving 19 years on extremism charges.

Officials kept the body for more than a week before handing it over to Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, who accused them of trying to pressure her into agreeing to a secret burial. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said Thursday the family had difficulties in finding a vehicle to transport the body to the church.

People arrive at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God ahead of the funeral of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Moscow, Russia, 1 March 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEI ILNITSKY)

Navalny died as talks were underway that could have seen him freed as part of a prisoner exchange with the US and Germany, a western official said.

The opposition leader, who was barred from running against Putin in 2018 elections, built up a huge following inside Russia with slick videos exposing high-level corruption and a campaign aimed at loosening the Kremlin’s grip on power. He helped lead protests that at their peak in 2011-2012 brought tens of thousands to the streets.

After a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning in Siberia in 2020 that he and the West blamed on the Kremlin, which denied involvement, Navalny was taken to Germany for treatment. He was detained at passport control in Moscow when he returned in January 2021 and remained in prison until his death. DM/Bloomberg

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  • Iam Fedup says:

    And Putin’s gang are the heroes that the ANC and Fikile Mbalula look up to? Beware, because our politicians would love to emulate these policies and practices… and it’s already started.

  • jill jones says:

    It makes the heart bleed.

  • JOHN WILLIAMS says:

    I am a UK resident and have been coming to SA for 20 years and staying each time for 3 months. You have a wonderful country but the way that Ramaphosa (or whatever his name is) and his cronies are running this beautiful Country is criminal. You have Zuma, who should be locked up in prison for a long time, now helping run another political party. There is corruption of some sort in every country but SA are he champions and unless this is stopped I can see SA becoming another Zimbabwe.
    Do not get into bed with Russia otherwise you will get bed sores you will not recover from. Stay safe all. John.

  • Lifeboy (still affloat) says:

    The funeral of a terrorist that tried to instigate a color revolution in Russia, who could have been easily killed by Putin had he wanted to, but wasn’t, who was “fully vaccinated” dies suddenly and his sponsors in the West sing the same song out of the same hymnbook.

    Really, DM, do you have to make it so obvious that you’re looking after the interests of your US 3-letter agency sponsors? I have not seen one critical investigative journalistic word about this from you. It’s telling.

    • Ari Potah says:

      Totally agree.
      This non-entity with a 2% following in Russia is now formally acknowledged to have died of natural causes – a blood clot.
      But he had been vaccinated, as you mention . . . nuff said.

  • Anthony Krijger says:

    Putin’s mafia is not unlike our own ANC mafia.

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