Hundreds of Russians in front of Alexei Navalny's grave the day after his funeral

Steph Deschamps / March 6, 2024

 

The mother of Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin's main critic who died in prison in troubled circumstances, visited his grave on Saturday, the day after a funeral where thousands of Russians paid tribute to him, risking arrest. A small number of mourners also laid flowers on the grave as police presence continued at the cemetery, near the banks of the Moskova River.
 
Mr. Navalny, the fiercest critic of the Russian president in over a decade, died on February 16 at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony, where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence for "extremism". The multiple trials brought against him had been widely denounced as a way of punishing him for his opposition to Vladimir Putin.
 
Already present when the coffin was laid to rest on Friday, the opponent's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, again visited his grave early Saturday morning, covered in flowers and wreaths, at Borisovo cemetery in southern Moscow. She was accompanied by Alla Abrossimova, the mother of Mr. Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya.
Yulia Navalnaya, the couple's two children and Mr. Navalny's brother live abroad and did not attend the funeral, where they could have been arrested for opposition to the Russian president. Alexei Navalny's widow has pledged to continue her husband's work and has repeatedly declared in recent days that Mr. Putin had "murdered" her.
 
On Friday, thousands of Navalny's supporters had lined up for hours to pay their respects. As they streamed from a nearby church to the cemetery, some chanted "No to war!" and other slogans in support of Navalny, including calling Putin a "murderer" and calling for the "release of political prisoners". Human rights NGO OVD-Info said Russian police had arrested at least 128 people taking part in tributes to Navalny in 19 cities on Friday.
 
The scenes of thousands of people marching in support of Mr. Navalny, demanding an end to Russia's assault on Ukraine and castigating the Kremlin, have not been seen in Russia since the first days after Moscow ordered hundreds of thousands of troops to cross the border in late February 2022.
 
Since then, the Kremlin has cracked down hard on dissent and used strict new military censorship laws to prosecute hundreds of people who spoke out publicly against the offensive. This all-out crackdown, in addition to the partial mobilization in autumn 2022, has also driven many Russians abroad.
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