Navalny’s ‘tortured’ body handed over to his mother

Published February 24, 2024
Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny’s video, speaks in a video posted on YouTube on Saturday.—Screenshot from Алексей Навальный/YouTube
Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny’s video, speaks in a video posted on YouTube on Saturday.—Screenshot from Алексей Навальный/YouTube

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died unexpectedly in prison nine days ago, was handed over to his mother on Saturday in the remote Arctic city of Salekhard, his spokeswoman said.

In a video recorded before the release of the body, Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya accused “demonic” Russian President Vladimir Putin of “torturing” the corpse of a political opponent.

Navalny’s allies urged supporters “not to relax” and his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on X there was no certainty that Russian authorities would let the relatives hold a funeral “the way the family wants and the way Alexei deserves.”

In her six-minute video published on YouTube, Navalnaya said she would continue the fight against Putin’s regime, questioned the president’s faith and accused him of holding her husband’s body “hostage”.

On Friday, Navalny’s mother Lyudmila said that Russian investigators were refusing to release his body from a morgue in Salekhard until she agreed to lay him to rest without a public funeral.

She said an official had told her that she should agree to their demands, as Navalny’s body was already decomposing.

On Saturday, Navalny’s aides said authorities had threatened to bury him in the remote prison colony where he died unless his family agreed to their conditions.

Since returning to the Russian presidency in 2012, Putin has positioned himself as a defender of traditional, conservative values against what he portrays as corrosive Western liberalism.

He has also trumpeted his closeness to Russia’s Orthodox Church, regularly appearing at services around religious festivals and speaking of his personal faith.

Navalnaya said her husband had been a devout Christian, who attended church and had fasted for Lent even while in prison. She said his political activism had been inspired by Christian values.

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