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The family of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arch-nemesis Alexei Navalny gathered Friday for his funeral in Moscow, weeks after his mysterious death.

Hundreds of mourners lined up around the Soothe My Sorrows church in Moscow where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s body would be laid to rest. They broke out into chants of “Navalny! Navalny!” as the coffin was being carried inside. 

The funeral comes days after Navalny’s body was ultimately turned over to the custody of the family.

Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh confirmed Navalny’s body has been turned over by the Russian government after days of pleading from Lyudmila Navalnaya, the late activist’s mother.


Protesters hold a picture of Alexei Navalny

Protesters hold a picture of Alexei Navalny as they stage a demonstration opposite the Russian Embassy in London, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, in reaction to the news that jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in a Russian prison, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“Alexey’s body was handed over to his mother,” Yarmysh confirmed Saturday. “Many thanks to all those who demanded this with us. Lyudmila Ivanovna is still in Salekhard.”

The opposition leader was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Russia’s brutal IK-3 penal colony, also known as “Polar Wolf,” in Kharp.  

Navalny in a casket

Alexei Navalny’s body in an open casket at Soothe My Sorrows church in Moscow. Photo Credit: East2West (East2West)

Prison officials say Navalny died on Feb. 16 of “sudden death syndrome” after collapsing following a walk. He was 47.


The prison, one of Russia’s toughest, is located approximately 145 miles east of Moscow.

His death sparked accusations around the world that he had been killed.

The day of Navalny’s death, President Biden told reporters at the White House that “we don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

Navalny final court appearance

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in court via video link on Thursday, Feb. 15, a day before his reported death at a penal colony in northern Russia. (Russian Federal Penitentiary Service/SOTAvision/AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Navalny’s “death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built.”

Four years ago, Navalny himself was asked what he would tell his Russian supporters if he were killed for challenging Putin.


Navalny and his wife

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia in Moscow, Russia, in September 2013. (AP/Evgeny Feldman)

“You’re not allowed to give up,” he told the documentary maker. “If they decide to kill me, it means we are incredibly strong and we need to use this power.”

Yulia Navalnaya has vowed to continue his work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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