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Navalny's mother says she's seen son's body

Published February 22, 2024last updated February 22, 2024

Lyudmila Navalnaya says she was shown her son's body after days of being barred from the morgue. But she accuses Russian authorities of pressuring her to have a secret funeral.

A sign with an image of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Russian authorities said the 47-year-old opposition politician suddenly died while taking a walk at the 'Polar Wolf' prison campImage: Liesa Johannssen/REUTERS

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's mother on Thursday said she had seen her son's body and was resisting pressure to allow a secret burial.

In a video address, Lyudmila Navalnaya said investigators had allowed her to see Navalny's body at the morgue in the Arctic city of Salekhard late Wednesday after days of being denied access.

"Yesterday evening, they secretly took me to the morgue where they showed me Alexei," she said.

In this grab taken from video provided by the Navalny Team on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny's mother Lyudmila Navalnaya speaks
Navalny's mother Lyudmila said she was taken to see his body after days of being barred from the morgueImage: Navalny Team/AP/picture alliance

She also accused Russian investigators of pressuring her to hold a "secret" funeral for her son.

"They are blackmailing me, they are setting conditions where, when and how my son should be buried," she said. "They want it to do it secretly without a mourning ceremony."

She said investigators told her, "time is not on your side, corpses decompose."

Action over Navalny's death

Navalny was Russia's foremost opposition figure and vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The 47-year-old was serving a three-decade prison sentence when he died at an Arctic penal colony last week.

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

Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, has accused Putin of causing her husband's death behind bars. It is an allegation the Kremlin, but not Putin himself, has angrily rejected.

Yulia Navalnaya steps to political front to oppose Kremlin

The European Union has vowed to hold Moscow accountable for his death.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday called the West's reaction to Navalny's death "hysteria" and said that Western countries had no right to meddle in Russia's affairs.

lo/nm (Reuters, AP, AFP)