Friday, April 19

Alexei Navalny’s mother says she has seen the Russian opposition activist’s body

The mother of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny on Thursday released a video stating that she had been given access to her son’s body but that officials had tried to bully her into holding a “secret funeral.”

Lyudmila Navalnaya, who has been attempting to retrieve her son’s corpse since Saturday, said she spent 24 hours in a morgue in Salekhard, the Siberian town near the prison where Navalny died, along with the Salekhard Investigative Committee but without her lawyer.

Navalnaya said investigators were “blackmailing” her by telling her that if she didn’t agree to a secret funeral they would “do something with the body.”

A protest movement led by Navalny, an anti-corruption activist, organized large demonstrations against the government of President Vladimir Putin. A funeral could galvanize the beleaguered movement.

Russian authorities have already struggled to contain an upswelling of support for the opposition following Navalny’s death. According to the rights group, OVD-Info, some 400 mourners were detained across Russia over the weekend for paying tribute at memorials to Navalny.

Alexei Navalny’s mother Lyudmila Navalnaya. Navalny Team via AP Photo

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, said on X that the medical report shown to Navalnaya stated that Navalny had died of natural causes. Russian authorities had refused to release his body pending a preliminary inquest.

“I’m recording this video because they started threatening me.” Navalnaya said, adding that an official told her: “Time is not on your side, corpses decompose.”

NBC News cannot confirm Navalnaya’s claims. Russian officials were not immediately available for comment.

In a video released Monday, his widow, Yuliya Navalnaya, blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his death, and said that her husband had been poisoned with the nerve agent, Novichok. She further asserted that his body was being held until traces of the poison had disappeared.

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The Kremlin has denied the accusation of poisoning.

Russian authorities reported that Navalny, 47, who had fought a yearslong struggle against official corruption and Putin’s government that included him surviving at least one poisoning attempt, died while in custody at a Siberian prison on Friday.

According to the Russian Prison Service, Navalny fell ill after a walk on Friday, and almost immediately lost consciousness.

In a series of Telegram posts, Ivan Zhdanov, an ally of Alexei Navalny and director of the Anti-Corruption Fund, commented on the circumstances of the release, calling it “low and vile.”

She said officials wanted Navalny’s funeral to be “done secretly, without a proper farewell. They want to bring me to the outskirts of the cemetery, to a fresh grave and say, ‘Here lies your son.’”

“I won’t consent to that,” Navalnaya said. “I want all of you, who cared about Alexei, and for whom his death was a personal tragedy, to have an opportunity to say goodbye to him,” she said.

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