Widow of Navalni: “I don’t know if the regime will allow my husband’s funeral to take place peacefully” |  International

Widow of Navalni: “I don’t know if the regime will allow my husband’s funeral to take place peacefully” | International

Widow of Navalni: “I don’t know if the regime will allow my husband’s funeral to take place peacefully” |  International

The Russian regime of Vladimir Putin continues to harass opponent Alexeï Navalny and what he represents, even to the point of death. The dissident, who died in an Arctic prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence, will be buried this Friday in Moscow, after his family fought for days to recover the body. The Kremlin tried at all costs to prevent the funeral of Navalni, who established himself as Putin’s great opponent, from being an open event, for fear that it would become a rare moment of protest in a country whose the security apparatus prohibits any allusion to demonstrations. The dissident’s wife, Yulia Navalnaïa, warned on Wednesday that Russian authorities could charge those attending the ceremony. “I don’t know if they will let things happen peacefully or if the police will arrest those who are going to say goodbye to my husband,” she said, visibly moved, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Russian authorities are trying to avoid any tribute to Navalni, who died on February 16 in an isolated penal colony. Kira Yarmish, a spokesperson for the dissident, also explained that her team had tried to find a venue to hold a larger farewell event, following mass at an Orthodox church in the Moscow neighborhood where Navalny lived and the funeral, and that they had not succeeded thanks to a mixture of fear of reprisals from the owners of the premises and pressure from the authorities.

Navalni’s mother had to fight for days to be able to bury the opponent in a public ceremony, after the authorities threatened to cremate the body if she planned to organize a public ceremony, as explained his lawyer. The ceremony is not a protest and therefore was not considered illegal as such, but Navalny’s team and civil rights organizations fear that participants could also face persecution. The organizations of the opponent, who died at the age of 47, have been declared “extremist” and any link with them could lead to legal persecution equivalent to terrorist crimes.

The funeral was scheduled a day after Putin’s annual speech to the Russian Federal Assembly (it will take place on Thursday in front of both chambers) and at a time of unprecedented repression against any social protests ahead of the March 17 vote in which The Russian autocrat, in power for 25 years, will remain as Kremlin president until 2030 and at a time when he poses a threat not only to Ukraine, which he invaded two years ago, but throughout the West. Several Western diplomats plan to attend the ceremony in memory of the opponent, not only to pay tribute to him, but also to try with their presence to guarantee that the farewell takes place peacefully, underlined a community source.

Yulia Navalnaïa, who became a political figure after the death of her husband and who is trying to gain a foothold in the fragmented Russian opposition, called this Wednesday in the European Parliament for “more creative measures” to monopolize the Kremlin, which despite the West Sanctions continue to maintain the war effort against Ukraine and its policy of harassment to sweep away all dissent.

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“Two years have passed (of war), of exhaustion, of blood, of disappointment. Putin has accomplished nothing. Everything has been done, but nothing works. And the worst has happened: people have become accustomed to war and some are even starting to wonder whether an agreement should be reached,” Navalnaya stressed to MEPs in Strasbourg. “And then Putin killed my husband,” she said. And he recalled the trajectory of the opponent, who has already suffered a near-fatal poisoning orchestrated by the Kremlin in 2020.

“To defeat Putin, you have to be innovative, you cannot defeat him with resolutions, you cannot think that he is a person of principles, with morality,” he warned. “We are not addressing a politician, but a monster,” emphasized Navalnaya, who demanded to arrest those who help Putin and his entourage – “a bunch of thieves” – and also that Europe can count on the Russian opposition and with it. the tens of thousands of people who oppose the regime and the war in Ukraine. “They should not persecute us, but work with us,” he said.

Acts of tribute to the opponent have become a challenge for the Kremlin. Hours after learning of Navalni’s death, thousands of Russians began laying flowers at monuments to victims of political repression across the country. Despite the random arrests – the vast majority of citizens came silently and left – and despite the authorities throwing the bouquets in the trash at night, Russians continued to leave flowers over the following days. At least 400 people were arrested in 39 cities, according to the OVD-Info organization. At another funeral with some distant resemblance, that of Wagner Group rebel leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, Putin ordered access to his grave barred with a perimeter of hundreds of security agents.

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