Navalny’s body returned to mother, spokeswoman says

Alexei Navalny
Image caption,Alexei Navalny died on 16 February in a Russian prison inside the Arctic Circle

The body of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has been returned to his mother, his spokeswoman says.

In a post on X, Kira Yarmysh thanked everybody who had demanded that the authorities hand over his remains.

“The funeral is yet to take place,” she wrote.

Navalny’s mother Lyudmila had reportedly been told to agree to a “secret” burial. If she refused, he would be buried at the prison colony where he died.

She has spent the last week in the town close to the prison where he died, trying to first confirm the location of his body then demanding it be returned to her.

After signing a death certificate saying he had died of natural causes, she was then given three hours to agree to a “secret” funeral for her son.

If she didn’t agree he would be buried within the grounds of the prison where he died, Ms Yarmysh said his mother was told.

However, Lyudmila had apparently refused to negotiate with the authorities.

Ms Yarmysh said the funeral plans were still not clear.

“We don’t know whether the authorities will interfere with it being carried out in the way the family wants and as Alexei deserves,” she said.

Earlier on Saturday, Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Vladimir Putin of holding her late husband’s body “hostage” and demanded its release without conditions.

“Give us the body of my husband,” she demanded in a video address.

“You tortured him alive, and now you keep torturing him dead. You mock the remains of the dead.”

Ms Navalnaya again accused the Russian president of being behind the death of her husband.

The Kremlin has denied the allegations, calling Western reaction to the death “hysterical”.

Navalny died on 16 February in a Russian prison inside the Arctic Circle.

Details about what happened to him remain scarce. His team has offered security officers €20,000 ($22,000; £17,000) in reward and assistance in leaving Russia in exchange for information about his death in prison.

For years, he was the most high-profile critic of the Russian leader.

In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned using the Novichok nerve agent by a team of would-be assassins from the Russian secret services.

Airlifted to Germany, he recovered there before returning to Russia in January 2021, where he was imprisoned.

Attempts at commemorating his death have been met by a heavy-handed response from Russian authorities, with makeshift monuments cleared and hundreds arrested.

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