Thousands attend funeral of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny despite threat of arrest

Thousands attend funeral of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny despite threat of arrest
By bne IntelliNews March 1, 2024

Thousands of mourners gathered at the Quench My Sorrows church in Moscow's Maryino district to attend the funeral service of Russian opposition political Alexey Navalny. 

Following days of uncertainty as his family struggled to find a burial location and place willing to host the service, his coffin arrived at 2pm, accompanied by the large crowd chanting "Navalny, Navalny!" as they waited to be allowed into the church.

Despite warnings from the authorities of possible arrests for an unsanctioned mass gathering, throngs of supporters opted to take the risk. 

Only a select few members of Navalny’s family and friends were allowed entry into the actual church to take part in the service. As his casket lay in state, with his grieving mothers and father close by, cries of "No to war,” “Russia will be free,” and "Putin is a killer" reverberated through the gathered crowd.

Among the visitors to the service were anti-war political figures like Yekaterina Duntsova and Boris Nadezhdin, as well as diplomatic representation from a number of countries, like the US, the UK, and Germany. 

Following the ceremony, his body was transferred a short distance away to Borisovskoye cemetery, before being buried shortly before 5pm. 

Despite a large police presence, there were no reports of mass arrests. However, on previous occasions, including Navalny-led protests, many of the attendees were later arrested in their homes and on the street due to the city’s developed facial recognition technology.

Navalny died on 16 February aged 47, after falling unconscious during a walk. His wife Yulia Navalnaya and his team have accused Vladimir Putin's regime of orchestrating his murder.

Navalny's journey to this final resting place was fraught with complications. After his death at the infamous "Polar Wolf" penal colony in the Russian Arctic, the authorities refused to release the corpse to his mother Lyudmila Navalnaya, instead demanding a burial within the prison complex.  They later told her that she must have a private ceremony. After she refused, the authorities relented, allowing him to be buried in his hometown of Moscow.