WARSAW: Russian authorities are threatening to bury Alexei Navalny on the grounds of the Arctic prison colony where he died unless his family agrees to a closed funeral, the opposition leader’s team said on Friday.

The 47-year-old Kremlin critic died last week after spending more than three years behind bars, prompting outrage and condemnation from Western leaders and his supporters.

Several leading Russian cultural figures and activists have called on authorities to release the body to his mother, who arrived at the prison colony in northern Siberia last Saturday.

“An hour ago, an investigator called Alexei’s mother and gave her an ultimatum,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote in a post on X.

“She has three hours to agree to a secret funeral without a public farewell, or Alexei will be buried in the colony.” His mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, “refused to negotiate... because they have no authority to decide how and where to bury her son”, Yarmysh added.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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