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France Media Agency in Moscow

12:04 p.m.

  • Europe

Relatives of Alexeï Navalny on Saturday described the Russian authorities as “killers” seeking to “cover their tracks” by refusing to hand over his body, the Kremlin remaining silent despite accusations from the West and rallies in tribute to him. 'opponent.

Despite severe repression and warnings, hundreds of Russians took part in small gatherings on Saturday in several cities to pay tribute to this famous critic of the Kremlin, who died the day before at the age of 47 in a prison in the Russian Arctic. Since Friday, the police have made 231 arrests during these events, according to the specialized NGO OVD-Info.

The authorities are on alert, one month before the presidential election which should see Mr. Putin reappointed in the absence of any opposition.

Alexei Navalny's team claimed that the authorities refused to return his mother's remains, arguing that the cause of her death had not been established.

“It’s obvious the killers want to cover their tracks. That’s why they don’t hand over Alexei’s body and even hide it from his mother,” she wrote on Telegram.

A lawyer for the opponent, who came to see the investigators, was informed “that a new histological examination (had) been carried out” and that the results “should be known next week”, wrote the spokesperson for the deceased, Kira Iarmich.

“It’s obvious they’re lying and doing everything they can to avoid having to hand over the body,” 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.

“Alexeï Navalny was killed,” said Ms. Iarmich who, like many opponents, went into exile to escape prison. “His death occurred on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local time, according to the official document.”

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Russian prison authorities announced Friday, in a terse statement, 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 bad 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 “being established”.

No details have leaked since, and Vladimir Putin has not said a word about the disappearance of this major political personality, a death which comes one month before the presidential election of March 15 – 17 which must see the master of the Kremlin reappointed, in the absence of any opposition.

It has been decimated by repression, particularly since the start of the Russian assault on Ukraine two years ago.

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

US President Joe Biden, “outraged”, 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.

Vladimir Putin remains silent, although he has been informed. He appeared on television at an event for the gas group Gazprom on Saturday.

“Don’t give up”

Kremlin ally, 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 to the memory of dissidents who were victims of political repression during the Soviet era.

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.

“Don’t give up! “, “We will never forget, we will never surrender, Russia will be free”, could one 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.

“In good health”

Alexei Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence for “extremism” in a remote Arctic penal colony, under very harsh 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 a bloodless opposition of its figurehead 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 21st century”, referring to the Russian offensive against Ukraine which began on February 24, 2022.

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

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

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116