Advertisement

Alexei Navalny’s team says hearse drivers refusing to take his body for high-security Moscow funeral

Alexei Navalny will be buried in Moscow on Friday amid tight security, fears of police crackdown, and difficulties targeting his funeral ceremony, his team said.

The memorial service comes two weeks after the 47-year-old Russian opposition politician suddenly died in an Arctic penal colony and his immediate family struggled to access his body. His team has accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being complicit in the death under mysterious circumstances of the fierce Kremlin critic.

His team’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said attempts to hire a hearse have been thwarted by “unknown people”.

She claimed drivers had been “called by unknown people and threatened not to take Alexey’s body anywhere”, according to CNN.

Ms Yarmysh said she had been told that “no hearse agrees to take the body there”.

Navalny’s allies have accused Russian authorities of blocking their plans to hold a bigger civil memorial service.

A number of Western leaders have also accused Mr Putin and the Russian authorities of killing Navalny, the Russian president’s most prominent critic. The accusations have been strongly denied by the Kremlin.

The funeral will begin in the Moscow district where Navalny used to live with a religious service at the Church of the Icon of Mother of God in Maryino.

Workers unload metal fencing in front of a church in Moscow where Navalny’s funeral ceremony is set to take place (AFP via Getty Images)
Workers unload metal fencing in front of a church in Moscow where Navalny’s funeral ceremony is set to take place (AFP via Getty Images)
A view of the Borisovo cemetery in Moscow, where the burial of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to take place (AFP via Getty Images)
A view of the Borisovo cemetery in Moscow, where the burial of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to take place (AFP via Getty Images)

He will then be buried at the Borisovskoye cemetery around 2.5km (1.5 miles) away on the other side of the Moskva river two hours later.

Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya, currently in exile outside Russia, has said she is unsure whether the funeral itself will pass off peacefully or whether the police will arrest those who attend the memorial service.

However, Navalny’s mother Lyudmila, 69, is expected to be a part of his funeral in Moscow. It is unclear who else will be allowed into the church for the service.

She was handed over his body on Saturday after repeated pleas to the Russian authorities.

Last Thursday, when Lyudmila was finally shown her son’s body, she said Russian officials “blackmailed” her to force her to agree to burying him in a secret ceremony.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday, Ms Yarmysh wrote: “Alexei’s body was handed over to his mother. Many thanks to all those who demanded this with us.

“Lyudmila Ivanovna is still in Salekhard. The funeral is still pending. We do not know if the authorities will interfere to carry it out as the family wants and as Alexey deserves. We will inform you as soon as there is news.”

Sharing a route map between two locations, his team has called on people who want to honour his memory but cannot attend his funeral services to instead go to nearby landmarks in their own towns on Friday evening at 7pm local time.

The Russian opposition leader’s death came a month before a presidential election in which Mr Putin is expected easily to claim re-election – a vote that Navalny repeatedly railed against, even in prison, as he began a 19-year sentence.