Alexeï Navalny’s relatives demand his remains, silence from Moscow

(Moscow) Alexeï Navalny’s relatives demanded on Saturday that the remains of the Russian opponent be handed over to them “immediately”, the authorities remaining silent on his death, except to reject the accusations of the West, who judges President Vladimir Putin responsible for this death.

In Moscow, the police made at least fifteen arrests of people who came to lay flowers on a monument in tribute to the Kremlin critic, who died Friday at the age of 47 in a prison in the Russian Arctic. The authorities are on alert, one month before the presidential election which should see Mr. Putin reappointed in the absence of any opposition.

“An employee of the colony [pénitentiaire] declared that the body of Alexeï Navalny was in Salekhard”, a town in the region where his prison was located, and had been taken by “investigators” for analysis, indicated the opponent’s spokesperson, Kira Iarmich .

“We demand that the body of Alexei Navalny be immediately handed over to his family,” she added.

The spokesperson indicated in an online video that the opponent’s mother, Lyoudmila Navalnaïa, had gone on Saturday, with a lawyer, to the IK-3 penal colony in the Arctic region of Yamal and that a “ official document” had been given to him confirming the death.


A woman wearing sunglasses, probably Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of Alexei Navalny, is accompanied as she leaves the IK-3 penal colony, where her son was serving his prison sentence, on February 17 in the Kharp colony , in Russia.

“Alexeï Navalny was killed,” said Mme Iarmich who went into exile, like a crowd of opponents, to escape prison. “His death occurred on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local time (4:17 a.m. Eastern time), according to the official document given to Alexei’s mother,” she added.

According to her, the deceased’s mother and the lawyer arrived at the prison at 11 a.m. Saturday (1 a.m. Eastern Time), but had to wait two hours before being received.

It is not possible to know when his remains will be handed over to his loved ones, nor when and where his burial could take place, while the authorities are on alert and have warned against any gathering.

Russian prison authorities announced Friday, in a terse press release, that the famous activist, imprisoned for three years, had died in the penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence.

The 47-year-old man, whose health was weakened by poisoning and his imprisonment, would have “felt unwell after a walk” and would have “lost consciousness”, they explained. They assured that everything had been done to resuscitate him and that the causes of death were “in the process of being established”.


Alexeï Navalny during his convalescence in Berlin in 2020

No details have leaked since, and Vladimir Putin has not said a word about the disappearance of this major political personality, a death which also comes one month before the presidential election of March 15-17 which will see the master of Kremlin renews, in the absence of any opposition, which has been decimated by repression, particularly since the start of the Russian assault against Ukraine two years ago.

Western countries, for their part, denounced with one voice the “responsibility” of the Russian regime.

American President Joe Biden, “scandalized”, accused his Russian counterpart of being “responsible”. A message hammered home by all Western leaders.

So many accusations that the Kremlin deemed “absolutely unacceptable” on Friday. But Vladimir Putin remains silent, although he has been informed.

” Do not abandon ”

An ally of the Kremlin, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the other hand, did not wish to comment on this “internal Russian affair”.

If the Russian authorities are silent on the circumstances of the death of the opponent and the state media barely mention his death, they have however warned the population against any demonstration.

Despite arrests, like Friday evening, Russians marched in small numbers on Saturday in several cities to lay flowers, particularly on monuments in memory of dissidents who were victims of political repression during the Soviet era.


Police officers arrest a man as people go to the monument to victims of political repression to lay flowers in honor of Alexei Navalny on February 17 in Saint Petersburg.

In total, at least 212 people were arrested during rallies in more than a dozen cities, the specialized NGO OVD-Info announced on Saturday.

At midday on Saturday, around fifteen Muscovites were arrested by the police during a gathering at the foot of a monument to the memory of Soviet repression, reported the independent Russian media Sota.

Shortly after, AFP journalists witnessed a new arrest there. But at the beginning of the afternoon, onlookers were able, under close police surveillance, to approach the monument again by leaving flowers and messages there.

” Do not abandon ! “, “We will never forget, we will never surrender, Russia will be free”, could we read on the sheets of paper scattered among the flowers at the foot of the “mourning wall” near Sakharov Avenue, a traditional place of opposition rallies and a thoroughfare named after a famous Soviet dissident.


People lay flowers at the foot of the “wall of mourning” on February 16 in Moscow.

Russian state agencies did not cover these rallies, only reporting some of the official reactions to the death of Alexei Navalny.

From Europe to the United States, hundreds of people also gathered Friday evening to pay tribute to the political opponent, as in Warsaw where demonstrators, mostly young and many upset, chanted “Putin, assassin”.

” In good health ”

Alexei Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence for “extremism” in a remote penal colony in the Arctic, under very difficult conditions. The trials brought against him were widely denounced as a way of punishing him for his opposition to Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the opponent participated by video in two hearings before a court in the Vladimir region and did not complain about his health, according to the state news agency Ria Novosti.

His mother said she saw her son on Monday “in good health and in a happy mood”, in a Facebook message cited by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

His disappearance deprives an opposition of its figurehead, bloodless after years of repression.


Prison had not dampened Alexeï Navalny’s determination. During his trial hearings and in messages broadcast through his team, he never stopped insulting Vladimir Putin.

In his trial for “extremism”, he castigated “the stupidest and most senseless war of the 21ste century”, evoking the Russian offensive against Ukraine which began on February 24, 2022.

And in a message on 1er February broadcast by his team, the opponent had called for demonstrations throughout Russia during the presidential election.

Many opponents have been imprisoned or driven into exile in recent years and repression has increased further since 2022.

Read “A long list of opponents targeted”

One of the best known is Vladimir Kara-Mourza, poisoned twice, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence. He suffers from serious health problems in detention.

Other critics of Mr. Putin have been assassinated, such as Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin in February 2015.

Read Laura-Julie Perreault’s column “The invincible Navalny”

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