Alexei Navalny's mother sees son's body and accuses Russia of forcing secret funeral without mourners

Alexei Navalny's mother has said she has seen the body of her son - and that officials are trying to force her to hold a private burial ceremony without mourners.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, speaking in a video published on YouTube, said officials had told her "time is not working for you" and that suggested her son's body was "decomposing".

She said officials had threatened to "do something" with the body if she didn't agree to a secret funeral.

"I'm recording this video because they started threatening me," she said.

"Looking into my eyes, they say that if I do not agree to a secret funeral, they will do something with my son's body."

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She also quoted an investigator as telling her: "Time is not working for you, corpses are decomposing."

There was no immediate response from Russian investigators.

Mr Navalny - a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin and a leading face in Russian opposition to his leadership - died in an Arctic penal colony.

His death was announced last Friday.

Ms Navalnaya has been calling on authorities to release his body to the family since then.

It came as Mr Navalny's team said his death certificate showed he had died from "natural causes".

Mr Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, on Monday accused Vladimir Putin of being responsible for the death of her husband and claimed he had died as a result of the nerve agent, novichok.

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She also accused authorities of hiding his body so traces of the poison would disappear. Mr Navalny was previously poisoned with the nerve agent in August 2020, but survived.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said the Russian president did not watch the video and would not comment given Mrs Navalnaya had recently been widowed, but he denied the novichok allegations.

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According to Russia's prison service, Mr Navalny fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony above the Arctic Circle where he was serving a three-decade sentence.

His body was reportedly taken to the Salekhard District Clinical Hospital morgue, but Mr Navalny's mother Lyudmila and his lawyers were "not allowed to go in".