23 Feb 2024

Navalny's mother views body, fears secret burial

7:18 am on 23 February 2024
People gather at a makeshift memorial for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized at the monument to the victims of political repressions in Saint Petersburg on February 16, 2024, following Navalny's death in his Arctic prison. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP)

A shrine for Alexei Navalny in St Petersburg. Photo: AFP

Alexei Navalny's mother Lyudmila accused Russian investigators on Thursday of planning to bury her son in secret without a funeral, and said she would not agree to it.

"They want this to be done secretly, with no farewell. They want to bring me to the edge of a cemetery, to a fresh grave and say: here lies your son. I don't agree to this," she said in a YouTube video.

There was no immediate response from Russian investigators.

Navalny, 47, Russia's best-known opposition politician, died suddenly in an Arctic penal colony last week. His aides and family have alleged that the Kremlin murdered him, an allegation the Kremlin has rejected.

A file photo of Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny died at an Arctic penal colony last weekend. Photo: EyePress via AFP

His mother said she had been shown his body and death certificate. Navalny's aides said the death certificate stated that the opposition politician had died of natural causes.

Navalny's mother said she had been taken to a morgue on Wednesday evening to see his body.

"The investigators claim that they know the cause of death, they have all the medical and legal documents ready, which I saw, and I signed the medical death certificate," she said, dressed in black and speaking in a calm voice.

"According to the law, they should have given me Alexei's body right away, but they have not done so until now. Instead, they are blackmailing me, setting me conditions on where, when and how Alexei should be buried. This is illegal."

Navalny's mother said: "I'm recording this video because they started threatening me. Looking into my eyes, they say that if I don't agree to a secret funeral, they will do something with my son's body."

She quoted one of the investigators as saying: "Time is not on your side, corpses decompose."

"I don't want special conditions," she said. "I just want everything to be done according to the law. I demand that my son's body be returned to me immediately."

The Kremlin has said it had nothing to do with Navalny's death, and that the circumstances are being investigated. President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment on it.

This story was first published by Reuters.

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