Russian authorities threaten to bury Navalny in jail colony, aide says | EUROtoday

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RIGA, Latvia — Russian authorities sharply elevated the strain on Alexei Navalny’s mom on Friday to conform to bury him in a quiet, personal funeral — issuing her a three-hour ultimatum and threatening to inter him on the grounds of the jail colony the place he died out of the blue final week, a former high aide to the late opposition chief stated.

The aide, Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, stated Lyudmila Navalnaya refused to bow to the calls for by the Investigative Committee. The legislation enforcement physique pursued Navalny relentlessly whereas he was alive with repeated legal prosecutions that impartial analysts stated have been trumped up for political retribution.

Instead, Navalnaya, 69, insisted on her authorized proper to assert her son’s physique from the morgue within the Arctic metropolis of Salekhard, the place it has been held for greater than per week, and to convey him to Moscow for burial.

This week, she signed his demise certificates, on which authorities stated Navalny died of “natural causes.” His household and his workforce say he was murdered and that authorities have withheld the physique to cowl up the proof.

President Biden and different leaders have stated Russian President Vladimir Putin is “responsible” for Navalny’s demise, and, as punishment, the United States on Friday introduced a brand new barrage of sanctions towards Russian corporations, entities and people. On Thursday, Biden met with Navalny’s widow and daughter, Yulia and Daria Navalnaya, in California.

The Russian authorities’ refusal at hand over the physique, a stand that appears meant to stop a public funeral that might draw a mass of political opposition supporters, has drawn shock and condemnation. Nearly 93,000 Russians have signed a petition by the authorized rights group OVD-Info calling on Russian authorities to offer the physique to the household.

Navalny died out of the blue Feb. 16 on the Polar Wolf jail colony within the Yamalo-Nenets area, simply above the Arctic Circle. The day earlier than, he had appeared at a court docket listening to by video hyperlink, seemingly in good well being and good spirits.

Burying Navalny on the grounds of the distant jail would deny his household and supporters the possibility to say farewell. It would additionally forestall his grave from turning into a spot the place Russians might pay homage to his braveness in opposing Putin and campaigning for a free, democratic Russia, which he usually known as the “beautiful Russia of the future.”

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The new strain on Navalny’s mom comes after her nearly surreal week-long ordeal to recuperate her son’s physique from Investigative Committee officers. She has issued two video appeals, one on to Putin, which went ignored.

Navalnaya rejected the ultimatum for a secret burial as a result of “they have no authority to decide how and where to bury her son,” stated Zhdanov, the previous Navalny aide. “She insists that the authorities allow the funeral and memorial service to take place according to custom.”

Navalnaya has demanded that investigators adjust to legal guidelines that oblige them at hand her the physique by Saturday, Zhdanov stated. She additionally filed a requirement on Friday to the Investigative Committee to open a legal case towards investigators. Her son had usually stated that the Investigative Committee examine itself and chortled on the absurdity.

On Friday, a army vacation in Russia often known as Defender of the Fatherland Day, Putin laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns on the Kremlin wall. The Russian chief, who made a degree of just about by no means uttering Navalny’s identify, has not commented on his demise.

On Thursday, Navalnaya stated one investigator had threatened that if she didn’t conform to a secret burial, her son’s physique can be allowed to decompose.

Dozens of Russian celebrities, writers, activists, artists, musicians, historians, actors and others recorded movies on Thursday and Friday calling on Putin at hand over Navalny’s physique to his mom and permit her to bury him in accordance with Russian custom.

They included dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and two Nobel laureates: peace prize winner Dmitry Muratov and Belarusian literature prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. Some expressed their grief and ache, others their anger.

Muratov, editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta, stated it was “awkward” even to speak about demanding that Navalny’s physique be handed over in a nation with Christian values.

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“Let’s just bow down and give the body to Lyudmila Ivanovna and the family — without any conditions,” he stated.

“My name is Mikhail Baryshnikov,” the famend Russian dancer and choreographer stated. “I strongly request that the body of the deceased Alexei Navalny be returned to his mother.”

“I want to appeal not only to the Kremlin,” Alexievich stated. “I want to ask all people, all of us: Speak up, speak out, say that the body should be given to the mother, given to the wife, to the children. The dead also have rights.”

Dmitry Glukhovskythe Russian author of the dystopian cult trilogy of Metro books, known as on Putin to offer the physique of the “innocently murdered” opposition chief to Navalnaya.

“By procrastinating, you only further prove that it was murder,” Glukhovsky stated. “By procrastinating, you further prove your weakness. Return the body of the murdered man and let him be given a decent burial.”

Co-founder of the artwork protest collective Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikovastated: “You have done the worst thing to her that can happen to a human being: a parent seeing the dead body of her child.”

“Years ago, we were jailed for allegedly trampling on traditional values,” Tolokonnikova stated, referring to her arrest in 2012 for a protest efficiency in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. “But no one tramples traditional values in Russia more than you, Putin, your officials and your popes who pray for all the murders you commit year after year, day after day.”

“Putin, have a conscience,” she added. “Give the mother her son’s body.”

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The refusal by Russian authorities to permit a public burial recollects the remedy of the households of dissidents who died in jail in Soviet instances. The final Soviet dissident to die in jail, Anatoly Marchenko, succumbed at age 48 in 1986 within the Chistopol jail colony in Tartarstan, after a starvation strike to name for the discharge of all political prisoners.

Soviet authorities refused repeated requests by his widow, Larisa Bogoraz, to convey her husband’s physique to Moscow, and he was buried in a village cemetery with Orthodox rites close to the jail together with his household and 5 mates current.

His demise later prompted the large-scale launch of political prisoners by Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev.

When one other charismatic Russian opposition determine, Boris Nemtsov, was shot lifeless on a bridge close to the Kremlin in 2015, his physique was laid in an open coffin within the Sakharov Center — named after the late Soviet-era dissident and Nobel peace laureate, Andrei Sakharov — the place supporters paid tribute. The heart was shuttered in August by a Russian court docket.

Nemtsov was buried on the Troyekurovskoy cemetery, the place Navalnaya additionally needs her son to be laid to relaxation. Navalny wished to attend Nemtsov’s burial, however he was in jail detention in one of many many legal circumstances towards him, and his request to attend was denied.

Natasha Abbakumova contributed to this report.