Navalny widow: Putin ‘must answer for what he has done’

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said Russian President Vladimir Putin “must answer” for what he has done with the country, and for her husband’s death, in an emotional speech Wednesday.

“Putin must answer for what he has done with my country. Putin must answer for what he has done to a neighboring peaceful country. And Putin must answer for everything he has done to Alexei,” she said in her impassioned speech to the European Parliament.

Russian officials announced Navalny’s death Feb. 16, explaining that Putin’s imprisoned top rival felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. Attempts to revive him after an ambulance was called were unsuccessful, the officials said.

Navalny’s mother was later told her son died from “sudden death syndrome” — a vague term used to describe various cardiac syndromes that can prompt sudden cardiac arrest and death. Following his death, Navalny’s family had pressed Russian officials for his body, after they said they would be holding it pending further investigation.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, confirmed over the weekend that Navalny’s body had been returned to his mother. His funeral has been scheduled for Friday — which Navalnaya said has sparked worries that people could be arrested for honoring his life.

“I thought that in 12 days since Alexei’s murder, I would have time to prepare for this speech. But first we spent a week — a week getting Alexei’s body and organizing funeral. Then I choose the cemetery and coffin. The funeral will take place the day after tomorrow,” Navalnaya said.

“And I’m not sure yet whether it will be peaceful or whether police will arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband,” she added.

Hundreds of people were detained across Russia for mourning Navalny in the days following his death. She also vowed again in her speech to continue the work of her late husband, who was serving a a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism.

“My husband will never see what a beautiful Russia of the future will look like, but we must see it,” she said, being met with applause. “I will do my best to make his dream come true. The evil will fall, and the beautiful future will come.”

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