MOSCOW: Hundreds of Russians visited the grave of dead Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Saturday, risking arrest to pay tribute to the anti-corruption campaigner for a second day running.

Navalny, President Vladi-

­mir Putin’s fiercest critic for more than a decade, died in an Arctic prison colony last month, where he was serving a 19-year sentence on “extremism” charges largely seen as political retribution for his opposition to the Kremlin.

A journalist saw mourners, some with tears in their eyes, queueing outside the Borisovo cemetery in southern Moscow on Saturday afternoon, as more walked from the nearby metro station carrying flowers and placards in honour of Navalny.

Despite warnings from the Kremlin that they faced arrest, thousands had come out for the official funeral service on Friday. Authorities have erected airport-style security scanners at the entrance to the cemetery, and police on Saturday were filmed frisking and searching those who had come to pay homage to the Kremlin critic.

Officers ordered mourners to “keep moving” as they laid stacks of red and white roses and carnations on Navalny’s grave.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, was among those who visited on Saturday, accompanied by Alla Abrosimova, the mother of Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya.

The circumstances of Navalny’s death remain somewhat unclear. Author­i­ties said he had died of “natural causes” after losing consciousness following a walk in his Arctic prison colony.

But Navalny’s aides have accused the Russian authorities of ordering him killed, and Western leaders have said Putin carries “responsibility” for his death.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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