‘No hearse’ for Navalny as family prepares funeral

Connie Queline

‘No hearse’ for Navalny as family prepares funeral

EPA

With hours to go until Alexei Navalny’s funeral, his team has said they continue to face difficulties in organising the farewell ceremony.

His spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said they had been unable to find a hearse to drive the body to church.

“Unknown people are calling mortuaries and threatening them if they accept to take Alexei’s body,” Ms Yarmysh said.

The funeral is scheduled to take place on Friday in Maryino, on the outskirts of Moscow.

On Wednesday, the team announced the memorial service would be held at 14:00 Moscow time (11:00 GMT) at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows.

The burial will then take place at the Borisovskoye Cemetery nearby at 16:00.

The funeral service will also be streamed online on Navalny’s YouTube channel.

Navalny died on 16 February in a Russian prison inside the Arctic Circle. He had been jailed for three years on trumped-up charges.

His team – who have encouraged people to attend – shared a map of the route between the two locations.

They also shared a list of places abroad – from Seoul to Rome, Montreal and Stockholm – where people can join memorial services for Navalny.

It is unclear how many people will attend the funeral in Moscow on Friday.

In March 2015, thousands lined the streets to pay homage to slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, but it is unlikely any similar public outpouring of grief for an opponent of President Vladimir Putin would be allowed now.

In recent years, Russian authorities have cracked down on any action that could be interpreted as criticism of the government. Attempts at commemorating Navalny’s death were met by a heavy-handed response, with makeshift monuments cleared and hundreds arrested.

Photos circulating on social media on Thursday afternoon showed a heavy police presence and barriers waiting to be installed near both the church where the memorial service will be held and at the cemetery where Navalny is due to be buried.

Telegram channel RusNews also said that surveillance cameras had been installed “on every streetlight” surrounding the cemetery.

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First Department – a group of lawyers and human rights defenders – shared advice on social media for those planning to go to Navalny’s funeral.

It warned about “pro-government activists” acting as provocateurs and urged people to remain vigilant: “Detentions cannot be ruled out after the ceremony… Stay under the radar of security forces – do not use public transport or apply for paperwork in the days after the funeral.”

The advice also includes not carrying any objects bearing the photograph of Navalny or the symbol of his Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was declared an extremist organisation by Russian authorities.

It is not known which members of Navalny’s family will be able to attend the funeral other than his mother, Lyudmila, who recently publicly accused the authorities of withholding her son’s body.

Navalny’s children Daria, 23, and Zakhar, 15, live abroad.

His widow, Yulia, is not thought to currently live in Russia, but might be at risk of being arrested if she returns due to her work with Navalny’s team and her recent public declarations in which she blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for her husband’s death.

The authorities have reportedly tried to thwart Navalny’s team’s attempts to organise a public farewell ceremony for the opposition leader for days.

On Tuesday, Ms Yarmysh said Navalny’s team were struggling to find somewhere to hold the ceremony. Some funeral homes had claimed they were fully booked, she said, while others told them they were “forbidden” from working with them.

Navalny’s widow Yulia said in a speech on Wednesday that she didn’t know if the funeral would be peaceful or if police would arrest those who came to say goodbye.

Related Topics

  • Russia
  • Alexei Navalny
  • Moscow

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