Home World News Navalny’s mother sues for release of body; mourners face military draft

Navalny’s mother sues for release of body; mourners face military draft

Navalny’s mother sues for release of body; mourners face military draft

RIGA, Latvia — Alexei Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, filed a lawsuit in a Russian court seeking to force officials to release the opposition leader’s body and accusing Russian investigators of violating the law by refusing to do so.

But any hope of a swift resolution of her struggle to retrieve the body and bury her son was dashed, with the court only scheduling a hearing to consider her claim on March 4. The hearing will be closed to the media and the public, state news agency Tass reported Wednesday.

Navalnaya traveled Saturday to the Polar Wolf prison, just above the Arctic Circle, in the Yamalo-Nenets region, where Navalny died suddenly, and since then she has been locked in a Kafkaesque struggle with Russian authorities over his body.

Navalnaya’s court action was filed in the city court in Salekhard, the regional capital 33 miles from the prison.

On Tuesday, she stood outside the prison and recorded a video appeal to President Vladimir Putin, requesting he personally direct authorities to release the body and allow her to bury her son.

For many young Russians, dreams of democracy died with Alexei Navalny

In scenes that recall Soviet authorities’ treatment of the families of political prisoners, Navalnaya has not been allowed to even see her son’s body, and her requests for information on where it is being held have been rebuffed.

Officials of Russia’s Investigative Committee told Navalnaya and the family’s lawyers on Monday that the body would undergo “chemical” investigation for at least 14 days.

“It’s been five days, and I still can’t see him; they don’t give me his body, and they don’t even tell me where he is,” Navalnaya said in the video statement. “I appeal to you, Vladimir Putin, the resolution to the issue depends solely on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei’s body be immediately handed over so that I can bury him decently.”

Nearly 77,000 Russians have signed a petition initiated by legal rights group OVD-Info, calling on Russian authorities to surrender the body to the family.

Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, who on Monday vowed to continue her husband’s work, also wrote to Putin to request the release of the body, according to Navalny’s team.

What to know about Yulia Navalnaya as she vows to take on Vladimir Putin

On Monday, Yulia Navalnaya accused Russian officials of fatally poisoning her husband with a nerve agent and holding onto his body as part of a coverup. Navalny survived a poisoning attack with a Novichok-type agent in August 2020.

After Navalny was poisoned, doctors at a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk put him into a medically induced coma, and local authorities refused to allow his wife or personal doctors into the ward to see him.

Hospital and security officials obstructed Yulia Navalnaya’s efforts to evacuate her husband for treatment outside of Russia. At the time, she appealed directly to Putin who allowed her to fly Navalny to Germany two days after he fell ill.

Putin has not publicly mentioned Navalny since the opposition leader’s death on Friday. Navalny was viewed widely as the president’s most formidable rival, but Putin has made a point of almost never uttering his name.

On Monday, however, the Russian president pointedly promoted several members of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, including the first deputy director, Valery Boyarinev, whom he awarded the rank of colonel general.

Since Navalny’s death, Russian authorities have arrested more than 400 Russian citizens who laid flowers in his memory, recorded the names of hundreds more and removed piles of flowers from memorial sites.

In St. Petersburg, several young men arrested at Navalny memorials were handed military draft summonses as they exited detention centers, according to Russian Telegram outlet RusNews, which posted an image of one of the summonses on Wednesday.

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here