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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to be held on Friday, his spokesperson says

    FILE - In this handout photo taken from video provided by the Moscow City Court on Feb. 2, 2021, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shows a heart symbol while standing in a defendants’ cage during a hearing in the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia. Navalny, who died in an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16, spent months in punishment cells for infractions like not buttoning his uniform properly or not putting his hands behind his back when required. (Moscow City Court via AP, File)

    The funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier this month in a remote Arctic penal colony, will take place on Friday in Moscow after several locations declined to host the service, his spokesperson said.

    His funeral will be held at a church in Moscow’s southeast Maryino district on Friday afternoon, Kira Yarmysh said Wednesday. The burial is to be at a nearby cemetery.

    Navalny died in mid-February in one of Russia’s harshest penal facilities. Russian authorities said the cause of his death at age 47 is still unknown, and the results of any investigation are likely to be questioned abroad. Many Western leaders have already said they hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for his death.

    Yarmysh spoke of the difficulties his team encountered in trying to find a site for a “farewell event” for Navalny.

    Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said most venues said they were fully booked, with some “refusing when we mention the surname ‘Navalny,” and one disclosing that “funeral agencies were forbidden to work with us.”

    Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the funeral was initially planned for Thursday –- the day of Putin’s annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly -– but no venue would agree to hold it then.

    “The real reason is clear. The Kremlin understands that nobody will need Putin and his message on the day we say farewell to Alexei,” Zhdanov wrote on Telegram.

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