Alexei Navalny's body was handed over to his mother

Body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, Navalny's top aide said on his social media account on Saturday.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's anti-corruption foundation, made the announcement on his Telegram account and thanked “everyone” who called on Russian authorities to hand over Navalny's body to his mother.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia NavalnayaNavalny's widow blamed the president Vladimir Putin Mocking Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in an Arctic penal colony.

“Thank you very much. Thank you to everyone who wrote and recorded video messages. You all did what you had to do. Thank you. The body of Alexei Navalny was handed over to his mother,” wrote Zhdanov.

Navalny, 47, Russia's most A well-known opposition politicianHe died unexpectedly at the Arctic penal colony on February 16, and his family has been fighting for his body to be returned to them for more than a week. Famous Russians posted videos Western countries have hit out, calling on authorities to release the body Russia with high barriers As punishment for Navalny's death Second anniversary Its invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, is still in Salekhard, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmish told X on Twitter. Lyudmila Navalnaya has been in the Arctic for more than a week after Russian authorities demanded her son's body be handed over to her.

“The funeral is still pending,” Yarmish tweeted, questioning whether authorities were allowing it “at the family's discretion and Alexey's merits.”

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Earlier on Saturday, Navalny's widow said in a video that Navalny's mother was “literally being tortured” by authorities who threatened to bury Navalny in an Arctic prison. They suggested to her mother that there was not much time to make a decision because the body was decomposing, Navalnaya said.

“Give us my husband's body,” Navalnaya said earlier Saturday. “You tortured him alive, now you torture him dead. You mock the remains of the dead.

Officers Many people have been detained They are seeking to stifle an outpouring of sympathy for Putin's staunch adversary ahead of the presidential election. Almost guaranteed to win. Russians on social media say authorities do not want to hand over Navalny's body to his family because they fear public support for him.

Navalnaya accused Putin, an Orthodox Christian, of killing Navalny.

Women react to pay tribute to Alexei Navalny at the monument, a large boulder in the Solovetsky Islands where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established near the historic Federal Security Service (FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB). building in Moscow, Russia on Saturday, February 24, 2024. Navalny, 47, Russia's most popular opposition politician, died unexpectedly in a penal colony on February 16, prompting hundreds of Russians across the country to stream to hasty memorials. With flowers and candles. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

“No true Christian would do what Putin is now doing to Alexei's body,” he asked, “and what would you do with his corpse? How low would you stoop to mock the man you murdered?

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Saturday, nine days since the death of the opposition leader, is a day of mourning for Orthodox Christians.

People across Russia marked the occasion, gathering in Orthodox churches to honor Navalny's memory, leaving flowers at public monuments or holding one-person protests.

According to photos and videos released by the independent Russian news agency SOTAvision, Muscovites lined up outside the city's Christ the Savior Cathedral to pay their respects. The video shows Russian police stationed nearby and officers stopping several people for ID checks.

As of Saturday evening, at least 38 people had been detained in Russia for showing support for Navalny, according to the rights group OVD-Info, which monitors political arrests.

Elena Osipova, a 78-year-old artist from St. Petersburg, stood in the street with a poster showing Navalny with angel wings, and Sergey Karabatov, 64, came to the Moscow memorial to victims of political repression with flowers. A note that says, “Don't think this is the end.”

Also arrested was Aida Nureyeva, from the city of Ufa near the Ural Mountains, who called her “Killer of Putin Navalny! I demand the return of the body!”

Putin is often pictured in church, celebrating Epiphany by plunging into ice water and visiting holy sites in Russia. He promoted what he called “traditional values,” without which, he once said, “society degenerates.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the allegations of Putin's involvement in Navalny's death as “absolutely baseless, derogatory allegations about the head of the Russian state.”

Musician Nadya Tolokonnikova became widely known after spending almost Two years imprisonment He was one of several prominent Russians to take part in a 2012 protest inside Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral with his band Bussy Riot, in which he accused Putin of hypocrisy and demanded the release of Navalny's body.

“We were jailed for violating traditional values. But no one tramples traditional Russian values ​​more than you, Putin, your officials and your priests who pray year after year, day after day, for all the murders you commit,” said Tolokonnikova, who lives abroad. “Putin, have a conscience, give the son's body to his mother.”

Lyudmila Navalnaya said Thursday that she had allowed investigators to view her son's body at the morgue in the Arctic city of Salekhard. He filed a case in a court in Salekhard against the authorities' refusal to release the body. A closed-door hearing is scheduled for March 4.

Navalny's spokesman Yarmish said Lyudmila Navalnaya was shown a medical certificate stating that her son had died of “natural causes”.

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