Russian Authorities Deny Access to Navalny’s Body, Allies Claim

The allies of Alexei Navalny, the prominent Russian opposition leader who died in prison on Friday, have accused the authorities of hiding his body and preventing his mother and lawyer from seeing it. They have also called for an international investigation into his death, which they believe was orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Navalny’s Death Sparks Outrage and Condemnation

Navalny, 47, was one of the most vocal and influential critics of President Vladimir Putin and his regime. He had exposed corruption, organized mass protests, and challenged Putin in the 2018 presidential election. He had also survived several assassination attempts, including a poisoning with a nerve agent in 2020, which he blamed on the Kremlin.

Alexei Navalny
Alexei Navalny

Navalny was arrested in January 2021, after returning from Germany, where he had received treatment for the poisoning. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a suspended sentence in a fraud case, which he said was politically motivated. He was transferred to a penal colony in the Arctic region of Yakutia, where he suffered from health problems and complained of torture and abuse.

On Friday, Navalny was found dead in his cell, after suffering a cardiac arrest. His death was announced by the prison authorities, who said that he had no signs of violence or foul play. However, his allies and supporters have rejected this version, and have demanded an independent autopsy and an international investigation into his death. They have also accused the authorities of being “killers” who were “covering their tracks” by refusing to hand over his body.

Navalny’s Mother and Lawyer Denied Access to His Body

On Saturday, Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, and his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, arrived in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, where they hoped to see his body and arrange for his funeral. However, they were denied access to the morgue, where his body was reportedly kept. They were also prevented from meeting with the local prosecutor and the head of the prison service.

“It’s obvious that the killers want to cover their tracks and are therefore not handing over Alexei’s body, hiding it even from his mother,” Navalny’s team said in a post on Telegram. “They don’t want whatever method they used to kill Alexei to come out,” his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said in an online broadcast.

Navalny’s allies have also said that they have not received any official documents or information about his death, and that they have been kept in the dark about the legal procedures and the possible burial options. They have appealed to the international community and human rights organizations to help them obtain his body and ensure a proper investigation.

Navalny’s Supporters Pay Tribute and Protest

Navalny’s death has sparked a wave of grief and anger among his supporters and admirers, both in Russia and abroad. Thousands of people have laid flowers and candles at various sites in Moscow and other cities, where they have also held vigils and rallies in his memory. Many of them have also expressed their defiance and determination to continue his fight for democracy and justice in Russia.

However, the Russian police have cracked down on the spontaneous demonstrations and memorials, arresting more than 400 people in 36 cities, according to the OVD-Info rights group. The police have also raided the offices and homes of Navalny’s associates and activists, confiscating their equipment and documents. The authorities have warned that any unauthorized protests or gatherings will be met with force and prosecution.

Navalny’s death has also drawn strong condemnation and criticism from Western leaders and organizations, who have blamed Putin and his regime for his death. They have called for sanctions and accountability for those responsible, and for the release of Navalny’s allies and supporters who have been detained or persecuted. They have also expressed their solidarity and support for the Russian people who are striving for freedom and human rights.

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