Alexei Navalny’s widow addresses European Parliament ahead of his Moscow funeral on Friday

Allies of late Russian opposition leader accuse Kremlin of blocking plans to organise separate memorial event

Allies of Alexei Navalny have accused the Kremlin of blocking their attempts to organise a bigger memorial event for the late Russian opposition leader, as it was announced that his funeral will be held on Friday in Moscow.

The funeral will be held at the Borisovskoye cemetery in Moscow after a farewell ceremony at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in the Maryino district of the Russian capital where Mr Navalny used to live, his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmish, announced.

“Come in advance,” Ms Yarmish wrote on X.

The memorial service, presided over by a priest and accompanied by choral singing, allows people to walk past the open casket of the deceased to say their farewells.


Ivan Zhdanov, a close Navalny ally, said his team was unable to find a venue where his supporters could publicly bid him farewell later this week. The event was supposed to be separate from the funeral service.

Mr Zhdanov said his team initially found a hall for February 29th but said they were then put under pressure to hold a closed remembrance service without the public. “Bastards. They won’t give us the date we want. They won’t give us the hall. Everyone will say goodbye to Alexei anyway,” Mr Zhdanov wrote on X.

“To have a chance to say goodbye, it’s best to arrive early,” he added.

Mr Navalny’s family and allies have accused the Kremlin of delaying the handover of his body and “blackmailing” his mother into agreeing to a private funeral without the general public in attendance.

It remains unclear whether the authorities will allow mourners to gather freely at the funeral on Friday.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Navalny’s widow, Yulia, said she was not sure the funeral would be “peaceful or if police would arrest those who came to say bye to my husband”.

Observers say the Kremlin appears to be going to great lengths to prevent Mr Navalny’s funeral from turning into a public display of support before the country’s presidential elections next month.

Hundreds of people have been detained in Russia while laying flowers at vigils for Mr Navalny across the country.

The Russian authorities claim Mr Navalny, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s most formidable domestic opponent, fell unconscious and died after a walk at the Polar Wolf Arctic penal colony. Mr Navalny’s death certificate, according to supporters, said he died of natural causes.

Mr Navalny’s team and his widow, Yulia, have accused Mr Putin of murdering him.

Yulia Navalnaya on Wednesday called the Russian president “a bloody monster, the ringleader of an organised crime group”.

“Putin must answer for what he did to my country. Putin must answer for what he did to a neighbouring peaceful country. Putin must be held accountable for what he did to Alexei,” Ms Navalnaya told MEPs in Strasbourg.

She aid the Kremlin “abused” her husband’s body by refusing to hand it over to his family for more than a week after his death.

Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of the opposition leader, on Monday alleged Mr Putin had the opposition leader killed in jail to sabotage a prisoner swap in which Mr Navalny would have been exchanged for a convicted hitman jailed in Germany. – Guardian