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Putin Critic Alexei Navalny’s Body Handed To Mother Week After Death, Says Team

Alexei Navalny was a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin (File)

Moscow:

The body of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, more than a week after he died in an Arctic prison colony, his spokesman announced on Saturday.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics, was arrested on February 16 in one of Russia’s toughest prisons in northern Siberia on charges widely seen as political retaliation against the opposition. He died while serving a 19-year sentence.

“Alexei’s body has been handed over to his mother. We thank everyone who joined us in demanding this,” Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s press secretary, said on X (formerly Twitter). Ta.

For the past week, Russian authorities have refused to grant custody of her son’s body to Lyudmila Navalnaya, who visited Salekhard town in the Yamalo-Nenets region, the closest settlement to the prison colony where Mr. Navalny died. Ta.

Navalny’s team announced Friday that it had filed a lawsuit seeking access to his body, alleging that local investigators had threatened to bury him on prison grounds unless his mother agreed to a “secret” funeral. .

Yarmis said funeral plans are still unclear.

“Lyudmila Ivanovna is still in Salekhard. The funeral is still pending. We do not know whether the authorities will intervene to give Alexei the funeral that the family wanted and that Alexei deserved,” she said. .

His team had previously said the Kremlin was trying to block a public funeral, which could be a show of support for Navalny’s movement and opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s leader, who famously never mentions Navalny’s name in public, has not commented on the death of his most vocal critic.

Mr Navalny’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, criticized comments by his wife and Western leaders blaming Putin for his death as “vulgar”.

“Satanism”

Russian authorities said Navalny died of “natural causes” after losing consciousness after taking a walk inside the prison colony known as the “Arctic Wolf.”

But his team said investigators detained his body and refused for days even to show it to his mother, prompting accusations by the state that the “killer” was trying to “cover his tracks.” .

Tens of thousands of Russians have signed a petition calling for the release of Navalny’s body, and dozens of prominent Russian cultural figures have released similar video messages.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya accused President Putin of “Satanism” for refusing to allow the return of her husband’s body.

“You tortured him alive and now you will torture him while he is dead,” Yulia Navalnaya, who vowed to continue her husband’s work, said in a video released Saturday. Ta.

“What President Putin is doing now is hatred. It’s not even hatred, it’s a kind of satanism,” she added.

His death, which occurred after three years in a Russian prison, sparked unrest among the country’s opposition and Western leaders.

On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added his voice to those pointing the finger at the Kremlin, saying the Russian leader was behind Navalny’s death.

“President Putin pretends to be powerful, but truly strong leaders do not assassinate their opponents,” Prime Minister Trudeau said at a press conference in Kiev to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Russia.

Last week, Russian police arrested hundreds of mourners at Navalny’s makeshift memorial.

The opposition leader shot to fame through his anti-corruption campaign, exposing allegations of ill-gotten gains by President Putin and his inner circle in a sophisticated YouTube video that has racked up millions of views.

He was arrested in January 2021 when he returned to Russia after receiving treatment in Germany for a poison attack he sustained several months earlier while campaigning against President Putin in Siberia.

He continued his campaign against corruption in Russia from prison, but was forced to watch helplessly as Putin invaded Ukraine, dismantled his organization, imprisoned allies, and forced others into exile. .

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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