Despite Warning, Thousands Bid Navalny Farewell

Kremlin says those who attend 'unauthorized gatherings' will be 'held accountable'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2024 6:03 AM CST
Security Is Heavy at Navalny's Funeral
Relatives and friends pay their last respects at the coffin of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 1, 2024.   (AP Photo)

Several supporters of Alexei Navalny were reportedly arrested Friday as they left their homes to attend a memorial for the Russian opposition leader, per the Guardian. Allies said more than 1,000 people lined up outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows in Moscow's Maryino district, where Navalny formerly lived, ahead of the memorial, despite fears that more would be arrested. In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said "any unauthorized gatherings will be in violation of the law, and those who participate in them will be held accountable."

In an address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya said arrests were possible. Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, fought to retrieve her son's body and hold an open funeral, to be streamed live on Navalny's YouTube channel, despite what she said was pressure from the Kremlin to hold a closed ceremony in the remote Arctic region where Navalny died in a penal colony. Though her children urged her not to attend, "I couldn't not come," a 58-year-old woman in attendance told the Washington Post, calling Navalny's death "unjust and cruel." "I don't see anything illegal in coming to say goodbye to a great man," added a man in attendance, per the Guardian. US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy, as well as the ambassadors of Australia, France, and Germany, paid their respects.

"All those who support Alexei and write about it, it is very important now and will be even more important later. So please don't stop," Navalny aide Kira Yarmysh said on the YouTube stream, per CNN. The crowd didn't hold back despite a heavy police presence, including what the Post describes as "busloads of riot police and security trucks." There was applause and chants of "Navalny! Navalny!" as his coffin was moved inside the church Friday, per the Guardian. The service began at 2pm local time or 6am ET. The body will then be taken to Borisovskoye cemetery to be buried. (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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