Russian Authorities Threaten to Bury Navalny on Prison Grounds, Aides Say


Russian authorities have warned Aleksei A. Navalny’s mother that if she doesn’t agree to a secret funeral, the late opposition campaigner will be buried by the state on prison grounds, according to Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, Mr. Navalny’s mother, was given three hours to agree — or until about 12:30 p.m. E.S.T. — but she refused to negotiate, arguing that the Russian authorities had no legal right to decide the time and place of her son’s burial, according to Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh.

“She is demanding compliance with the law, which requires investigators to hand over the body within two days, from the moment the cause of death is established,” Ms. Yarmysh said in a statement released on X. The two days expire on Saturday.

Mr. Navalny’s mother is “insisting the authorities allow a funeral and memorial service to be held in accordance with tradition,” Ms. Yarmysh added.

The ultimatum is the latest twist in a macabre saga, in which Mr. Navalny’s 69-year-old mother has been trying to retrieve her son’s body for nearly a week at an Arctic morgue in Russia, near the prison where he died.

His death was announced on Feb. 16.

Ms. Navalnaya had to wait five days before Russian authorities showed her the body on Wednesday. She later signed a medical report claiming he died of natural causes. She has accused the authorities of “blackmailing” her, by refusing to release her son’s remains until she agrees to a secret funeral without a public goodbye.

The standoff has led to an outpouring of support for Mr. Navalny’s family by celebrities, who released videos demanding that Russian authorities hand over the body. The ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich and the director Andrey Zvyagintsev were among those who released video messages.

“It is uncomfortable to even discuss this in a country that so far still considers itself Christian,” Dmitri A. Muratov, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Russian editor, said in a video.


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