Lawsuit on release of Alexei Navalny’s body will not be heard until next week

The opposition leader’s mother has been trying to retrieve her son’s body since his death in a penal colony on Saturday

A Russian court will take almost two weeks to hear a lawsuit filed by the mother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny contesting officials’ refusal to release her son’s body.

A closed-door hearing has been scheduled for March 4th, Russian state media said on Wednesday, citing court officials.

Lyudmila Navalnaya has been trying to retrieve her son’s body since Saturday, following his death in a penal colony in Russia’s far north the day before.

Supporters believe Mr Navalny was murdered, either as an act of foul play or through mistreatment over three years in the Russian prison system.


Investigators have said they might not return his body for two weeks as they run “tests”.

Lyudmila Navalnay appealed to Russian president Vladimir Putin to release her son’s body so he could be “buried humanely”.

“For a fifth day I cannot see him, they aren’t giving me his body and don’t even tell me where he is,” she said, speaking in front of the prison colony where her son died, clad in black.

“I appeal to you, Vladimir Putin. Resolving this issue depends on you alone. Let me finally see my son... I demand that Alexei’s body be released immediately so that I can bury him humanely.”

His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has publicly accused Mr Putin of ordering the murder of her late husband and said investigators were retaining his body in order to cover up a political assassination.

Russia’s prison authorities reported on Friday that Mr Navalny felt unwell after a walk and soon became unconscious at the prison in the town of Kharp. An ambulance arrived but he could not be revived, the service claimed, adding that the cause of death was still “being established”.

Mr Navalny’s death has triggered widespread condemnation in the West, with many leaders pledging to introduce new sanctions on the Kremlin.

The UK on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six individuals in charge of the Arctic penal colony where Mr Navalny died last week, in a largely symbolic measure that is unlikely to have any wider consequences for Russia.

The Biden administration has also announced it was preparing “major sanctions” against Moscow in response to the death.

Since Mr Navalny’s death, about 400 people have been detained across Russia as they tried to pay tribute to him with flowers and candles, according to one Russian group that monitors political arrests. Some of the Russian men detained while mourning have reportedly been handed military draft papers while in custody. - Guardian