AP PHOTOS: Russians say final farewell at funeral of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Thousands of mourners gathered in Moscow to bid farewell to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday, two weeks after his still-unexplained death in an Arctic penal colony.

Crowds faced a heavy police presence as they thronged the church where Navalny’s funeral was held, and the cemetery in a snowy suburb where he was finally laid to rest.

Navalny’s parents, Lyudmila and Anatoly, sat by the open casket, cradling and kissing their son’s face before the coffin was finally closed and lowered into the ground.

Mourners threw flowers into the path of Navalny’s hearse or queued for hours to lay tributes at his grave, throwing handfuls of dirt on the casket as they paid their respects.

Many chanted slogans against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, turning the event into one of the largest displays of dissent since the Kremlin launched a full-scale invasion against its neighbor two years ago.

While the Moscow funeral remained relatively peaceful, at least 91 people were detained at events across Russia in Navalny’s memory, said OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests. Most were stopped while trying to lay flowers at monuments dedicated to victims of Soviet repression.

Russian authorities still haven’t announced the cause of death for Navalny, who was 47. His team cited paperwork that Lyudmila Navalnaya saw that listed “natural causes,” although the day before his death he had appeared in court via video link joking with officials.

Navalny had been jailed since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow to face certain arrest after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. His Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his regional offices were designated as “extremist organizations” by the Russian government that same year.


More AP coverage of Alexei Navalny: https://apnews.com/hub/alexei-navalny

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