Monday, April 22, 2024

Hundreds attended Navalny’s funeral, braving warnings in opposition to protests – Euractiv

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Friday (1 March), two weeks after President Vladimir Putin’s high critic died in an Arctic jail.

Many carried flowers and shouted assist for the 47-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who galvanised mass protests in opposition to Putin, because the hearse arrived at a church for a brief spiritual service.

The demise has been extensively condemned by Western leaders and Navalny’s supporters have accused Putin of homicide and of making an attempt to stop a dignified public burial.

The Kremlin, which has denied involvement and dismissed the accusations as “hysterical”, warned in opposition to “unauthorised” protests across the funeral.

Navalny’s physique first lay in an open casket in a packed church in Maryino, southern Moscow, for a ceremony attended by his dad and mom.

The coffin was closed instantly after the service, which means many mourners who had needed to file previous weren’t in a position to pay their final respects on the Mom of God Quench My Sorrows church.

The coffin was then transported to the Borisovo cemetery, close to the banks of the Moskva River, the place a number of giant wreaths had been organized across the grave.

“We gained’t neglect you!” and “Forgive us!” some mourners shouted because the coffin arrived for burial.

‘What are they afraid of?’

Some 400 mourners have been detained at Navalny memorials since his demise, rights organisation OVD-Information has stated, and there was concern of extra arrests on the funeral the place a heavy police presence may very well be seen.

“Any unauthorised gatherings shall be in violation of the regulation and those that take part in them shall be held accountable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated, in keeping with TASS information company.

“What are they afraid of? Why so many vehicles?” one mourner, Anna Stepanova, advised AFP outdoors the church.

“They’re so afraid themselves,” she stated. “The individuals who got here right here, they aren’t scared. Alexei wasn’t both.”

“Individuals like him shouldn’t be dying: sincere and principled, prepared to sacrifice themselves,” she added.

The French, German and US ambassadors had been seen amongst mourners outdoors the church, as had been a few of Russia’s final free unbiased politicians.

The dissident’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, earlier stated she feared the funeral may very well be disrupted by additional arrests.

“I’m unsure but whether or not will probably be peaceable or whether or not the police will arrest those that have come to say goodbye to my husband,” Navalnaya advised the European Parliament this week.

Navalnaya has blamed Putin for her husband’s demise.

Putin’s spokesman Peskov has criticised the accusations made by her and a few Western leaders as “vulgar”.

On the day of the funeral, Peskov stated he had “nothing to say” to the household of the deceased.

‘Nothing to say’

Navalny shot to prominence by means of his anti-corruption campaigning, exposing what he stated was rampant graft on the high of Putin’s administration.

Some mourners talked about the large affect Navalny had on their very own political activism.

“Due to him I started to get entangled in politics… He was the primary public individual that I listened to,” stated 26-year-old Denis, a volunteer at a charity.

Navalny was arrested in January 2021 when he returned to Russia after being handled in Germany for a poisoning assault.

“Alexei was tortured for 3 years,” Navalnaya advised lawmakers in Brussels.

“He was starved in a tiny stone cell, minimize off from the skin world and denied visits, cellphone calls, after which even letters.”

“After which they killed him. Even after that, they abused his physique,” she stated.

‘Concepts will reside on’

His physique was held in a morgue for eight days earlier than being returned to the household, which Navalny’s group believed to be a bid to cowl up duty for his demise.

His household and his group have additionally accused authorities of making an attempt to stop a dignified public burial, fearing it may flip right into a flashpoint for dissent.

Navalny’s group stated native investigators had threatened to bury him on the jail grounds if his mom didn’t conform to a “secret” funeral.

As soon as the physique was launched, allies struggled to discover a place that might agree to carry a funeral ceremony, in addition to hearse drivers.

And a civil ceremony permitting most people to pay their respects to the physique — frequent in Russia — has not been allowed.

Navalnaya has vowed to proceed his life’s work and urged to “battle extra desperately, extra fiercely than earlier than.”

Within the crowd close to the church, some appeared to agree.

“An individual has died, however his concepts will reside on due to those that have gathered right here,” stated Alyona, a 22-year-old archaeologist who got here to pay her respects.

Learn extra with Euractiv

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