Alexeï Navalny buried in Moscow, in the presence of thousands of his supporters

Alexeï Navalny, Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, poisoned, convicted and died in prison, was buried on Friday March 1 under heavy police surveillance, after a religious service in an Orthodox church in the south of Moscow, in a neighborhood where he once lived with his family

Alexeï Navalny buried in Moscow, in the presence of thousands of his supporters

Alexeï Navalny, Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, poisoned, convicted and died in prison, was buried on Friday March 1 under heavy police surveillance, after a religious service in an Orthodox church in the south of Moscow, in a neighborhood where he once lived with his family . Russian police made at least forty-five arrests during rallies in tribute to Alexeï Navalny, according to the specialist NGO OVD-Info. Six of these people were arrested in Moscow, the other arrests having occurred in other localities, including Novosibirsk, in western Siberia, as well as in the Voronezh region.

Coming in large numbers with flowers, some in tears or with tears in their eyes, the Russians present chanted “No to war! », “We will not forget you! » or even “We will not forgive”.

After a short ceremony in a church in the presence of his parents, during which the remains of Alexeï Navalny were exposed in an open coffin according to the Orthodox rite, the opponent was buried at the Borissov cemetery, in the south -east of the capital. At the time of the funeral the soundtrack of the film Terminator 2 sounded, which was according to the opponent the “best film ever made”, explained his spokesperson, Kira Iarmych.

To the applause of the crowd

In the church, his body was shown to the public for the first time, covered with dozens of red and white flowers, while those present held candles. Those who managed to enter the small church were able to see the pale face with distorted features of Alexei Navalny. The hearse carrying his coffin had arrived moments earlier, to the applause of the crowd.

Outside the church, a large crowd of several thousand people gathered, forming a very long line. Riot police were present in force and dotted the area with barriers.

“It’s painful, people like him should not die, honest people, with principles, ready to sacrifice themselves,” testifies Anna Stepanova, also emphasizing the opponent’s “sense of humor.” “Even in pain, he would make jokes. »

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov warned of potential sanctions in the event of participation in any “unauthorized” demonstration during the funeral. During his daily press conference, Mr. Peskov also said that he had “nothing to say” to the family of the deceased.

Alexeï Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaïa, thanked her husband for "these twenty-six years of absolute happiness", in a farewell message posted on social networks. “I don’t know how I’m going to live without you, but I’m going to do my best to make sure you’re happy and proud of me up there,” she said. I love you forever. »

Presence of ambassadors

Main critic of the Kremlin and charismatic anti-corruption activist, Alexei Navalny died on February 16 at the age of 47 in a Russian penal colony in the Arctic, where torture is routine, in circumstances that remain obscure. His collaborators, his widow and Westerners have accused Vladimir Putin of being responsible for his death, which the Kremlin rejects.

After delaying handing over Mr. Navalny's body to his relatives, Russian authorities finally did so last weekend, allowing a funeral. The American ambassador and the French and German ambassadors visited the site, as well as three opposition figures still at large: Evgeni Roïzman, Boris Nadezhdine and Ekaterina Dountsova.

According to Maxime, a 43-year-old computer scientist who came to pay tribute to the opponent, Alexeï Navalny “showed freedom”. Denis, 26, a volunteer in a charity association, greets a man thanks to whom he became "interested in politics", in an increasingly authoritarian regime where young people's disinterest in political issues is very strong .

Awkward rallies for power

Since the handover of Alexeï Navalny's body to his mother on Saturday, the opponent's team had been looking for a place for a "public farewell" but saw any request "rejected", accusing the authorities of putting pressure on the managers.

Despite everything, she called on Muscovites to come and say goodbye to Alexeï Navalny, and his supporters in other cities and abroad to gather in front of memorials to honor his memory.

Gatherings which could be embarrassing for those in power, two weeks before the first of the presidential election (from March 15 to 17) supposed to extend Vladimir Putin's reign in power. Nearly four hundred people were arrested by police in the days following the death of the opponent, during improvised rallies in his memory.

Yulia Navalnaïa regretted on Thursday that no civil ceremony had been authorized to allow the body to be exposed to a wider public, as is often the case after the death of major personalities in Russia. “The people in the Kremlin killed him, then trampled his body, then trampled his mother, and now trample his memory,” she lambasted, accusing Vladimir Putin and the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, of be responsible for this situation.

Before his poisoning in 2020, which he narrowly survived and of which he accused Vladimir Putin, then his arrest and sentence to nineteen years in prison for “extremism”, Alexeï Navalny managed to mobilize crowds, particularly in the Russian capital.

His movement, which relied on investigations exposing corruption among Russian elites, has been methodically dismantled in recent years, with many of its collaborators sent behind bars or into exile. After the death of her husband, Yulia Navalnaïa promised to continue her fight.