Navalny's Family and Supporters Lay Him to Rest after His Death in Prison

Candles and a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are left at a makeshift memorial as people demonstrate and pay their respect following his death in prison, in front of the former Russian consulate in Frankfurt, western Germany on February 16, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Candles and a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are left at a makeshift memorial as people demonstrate and pay their respect following his death in prison, in front of the former Russian consulate in Frankfurt, western Germany on February 16, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Navalny's Family and Supporters Lay Him to Rest after His Death in Prison

Candles and a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are left at a makeshift memorial as people demonstrate and pay their respect following his death in prison, in front of the former Russian consulate in Frankfurt, western Germany on February 16, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Candles and a photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are left at a makeshift memorial as people demonstrate and pay their respect following his death in prison, in front of the former Russian consulate in Frankfurt, western Germany on February 16, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Hundreds of people gathered to bid farewell to Alexei Navalny at a funeral Friday in Moscow under a heavy police presence, following a battle with authorities over the release of his body after his still-unexplained death in an Arctic penal colony.
His supporters said several churches in Moscow refused to hold the service before Navalny’s team got permission from one in the capital’s Maryino district, where he once lived before his 2020 poisoning, treatment in Germany and subsequent arrest on his return to Russia, The Associated Press said.
The Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows, which was encircled by crowd-control barriers, did not mention the service on its social media page. Hours before the funeral was set to start, hundreds waited to enter the church under the watch of police who deployed in big numbers. Western diplomats were spotted in the long line.
After the hearse arrived at the church, the coffin could be seen on live streamed footage being taken out of the vehicle, as the crowd applauded and chanted: “Navalny! Navalny!”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged those gathering in Moscow and other places not to break the law, saying any “unauthorized (mass) gatherings" are violations.
A burial was to follow at the nearby Borisovskoye Cemetery, where police also showed up in force.
Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, spent eight days trying to get authorities to release the body following his Feb. 16 death at Penal Colony No. 3 in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenets region about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow.
Even on Friday itself, the morgue where the body was being held delayed its release, according to Ivan Zhdanov, Navalny's close ally and director of his Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Authorities originally said they couldn't turn over the body because they needed to conduct post-mortem tests. Navalnaya, 69, made a video appeal to President Vladimir Putin to release it so she could bury her son with dignity.
Once it was released, at least one funeral director said he had been “forbidden” to work with Navalny’s supporters, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on social media. They also struggled to find a hearse.
“Unknown people are calling up people and threatening them not to take Alexei’s body anywhere,” Yarmysh said Thursday.
Russian authorities still haven’t announced the cause of death for Navalny, 47, who crusaded against official corruption and organized big protests as Putin’s fiercest political foe. Many Western leaders blamed the death on the Russian leader, an accusation the Kremlin angrily rejected.
It was not immediately clear who among Navalny’s family or allies would attend the funeral, with many of his associates in exile abroad due to fear of prosecution in Russia. Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his regional offices were designated as “extremist organizations” by the Russian government in 2021.
The funeral is streamed live on Navalny’s YouTube channel.
His widow, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of trying to block a public funeral.
“We don’t want any special treatment — just to give people the opportunity to say farewell to Alexei in a normal way,” Yulia Navalnaya wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. In a speech to European lawmakers on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France, she also expressed fears that police might interfere with the gathering or would "arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband.”
Moscow authorities refused permission for a separate memorial event for Navalny and slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov on Friday, citing COVID-19 restrictions, according to politician Yekaterina Duntsova. Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, was shot to death as he walked on a bridge adjacent to the Kremlin on the night of Feb. 27, 2015.
Yarmysh also urged Navalny's supporters around the world to lay flowers in his honor Friday.
“Everyone who knew Alexei says what a cheerful, courageous and honest person he was,” Yarmysh said Thursday. “But the greater truth is that even if you never met Alexei, you knew what he was like, too. You shared his investigations, you went to rallies with him, you read his posts from prison. His example showed many people what to do when things were scary and difficult.”
Zhdanov, the Navalny ally, said that the funeral had initially been planned for Thursday — the day of Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation address — but no venue agreed to hold it then.
In an interview with the independent Russian news site Meduza, Zhdanov said authorities had pressured Navalny’s relatives to “have a quiet family funeral.”

 

 



Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
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Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo

Sweden's domestic security agency on Thursday accused Iran of using established criminal networks in Sweden as a proxy to target Israeli or Jewish interests in the Scandinavian country.
The accusations were raised at a news conference by Daniel Stenling, the head of the SAPO agency's counterespionage unit, following a series of events earlier this year.
In late January, the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm was sealed off after what was then described as “a dangerous object” was found on the grounds of the diplomatic mission in an eastern Stockholm neighborhood. Swedish media said the object was a hand grenade.
The embassy was not evacuated and the object was eventually destroyed. No arrests were made and authorities did not say what was found. On May 17, gunshots were heard near the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm and the area was cordoned off. No one was arrested.
According to The Associated Press, Stenling said, without offering specifics or evidence to back up his assertion, that the agency "can establish that criminal networks in Sweden are used as a proxy by Iran.”
“It is very much about planning and attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli and Jewish interests, goals and activities in Sweden," he said and added that the agency sees "connections between criminal individuals in the criminal networks and individuals who are connected to the Iranian security services.”
Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer and Hampus Nygårds, deputy head of the Swedish police's National Operations Department, were also at the online news conference with Stenling.
“We see this connection between the Iranian intelligence services, the security services and precisely criminals in the criminal networks in Sweden," Stenling said. “We see that connection and it also means that we need to work much more internationally to get to the crimes and be able to prevent them.”
Stenling and the others made no mention of the recent incidents connected to the Israel Embassy and stopped short of naming any criminal groups or suspects.
Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years and criminal gangs often recruit teenagers in socially disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods to carry out hits.
By May 15, police have recorded 85 shootings so far this year, including 12 fatal shootings. Last year, 53 people were killed and 109 were wounded in a total of 363 shootings.