Alexei Navalny's funeral to be held on Friday, spokesperson says

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shows a heart symbol while standing in a defendants’ cage during a hearing in the Moscow City Court in February 2021.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shows a heart symbol while standing in a defendants’ cage during a hearing in the Moscow City Court in February 2021. Copyright Moscow City Court via AP, File
Copyright Moscow City Court via AP, File
By Euronews with AP
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After several locations refused to host the service, Navalny's spokesperson confirmed that a site for the funeral of the Russian opposition leader has been found.

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Alexei Navalny's spokesperson announced on Wednesday that the funeral for the Russian opposition leader will be held on Friday at a church in Moscow, two weeks after he died in a remote Arctic penal colony.

Navalny's body was returned to his mother eight days after his death, according to his spokesperson. The family had trouble finding a location willing to hold the funeral, as many declined to host the service.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said that most venues said they were fully booked, with some "refusing when we mention the surname 'Navalny'" and one disclosing that "funeral agencies were forbidden to work with us".

But Yarmysh said on Wednesday that the funeral has now been arranged for Friday afternoon, and will be conducted at a church in Moscow's southeast Maryino district.

The opposition leader will be buried at a nearby cemetery.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the funeral was initially planned for Thursday – the day of Putin's annual address to Russia's Federal Assembly – but no venue would agree to hold it then.

"The real reason is clear. The Kremlin understands that nobody will need Putin and his message on the day we say farewell to Alexei," Zhdanov wrote on Telegram.

Russian authorities reported earlier this month that Navalny, arguably the most prominent opposition figure in Russia, collapsed after a walk on February 16 in penal colony number 3, immediately losing consciousness. Officials claim he could not be resuscitated despite attempts to revive him.

He was 47 years old at the time of his death, and he was serving a three-decade-long jail sentence on charges many considered spurious and political.

The cause of his death was initially indicated by Russian authorities as "sudden death syndrome" – something like a heart attack.

The results of any investigations into his death in Russia are likely to be challenged abroad, especially as Western leaders have widely condemned Russia's President Vladimir Putin for the opposition leader's death.

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