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Kremlin blackmailing me into burying Alexei secretly, says Navalny’s mother

Ms Navalnaya said she had been shown a death certificate which stated her son had died of natural causes
Lyudmila Navalnaya said she had been shown a death certificate which stated her son had died of natural causes - REUTERS

Alexei Navalny’s mother has claimed the Kremlin is trying to blackmail her into burying her son in secret.

Lyudmila Navalnaya said she had been taken to a morgue in the town of Salekhard, near to where her son, the prominent Russian opposition figure, had been imprisoned until his death last Friday.

Navalny’s family have waited days to get access to his body after he collapsed and died in the Arctic penal colony where he was imprisoned.

Authorities claimed his death was due to “sudden death syndrome”. But Navalny’s family have alleged that the Kremlin murdered him, which Moscow denies.

Ms Navalnaya said she had been shown his body and death certificate, which stated her son had died of natural causes.

But then instead of being able to take him with her to bury him, she said the authorities there pressured her to bury her son in secret, threatening to “do something” to his corpse if she did not comply.

“By law, they should have immediately handed over Alexei’s body to me, but they are still yet to do so,” she said.

“Instead, they are blackmailing me, setting me conditions on where, when and how Alexei should be buried. This is illegal.

Burial threats

“I’m recording this video because they started threatening me. Looking into my eyes, they say that if I don’t agree to a secret funeral, they will do something with my son’s body.”

One inspector is said to have told her: “Time is not on your side, the body is decomposing.”

Ms Navalnaya said she wanted her son’s supporters, who have braved a crackdown by authorities to lay tributes across Russian cities, to be allowed to “say goodbye to him”.

“They want it to be done secretly, without any farewell,” she said. “They want to bring me to the outskirts of a cemetery, to a fresh grave, and say, ‘Here lies your son’.

“I do not agree to this. I want you, for whom Alexei mattered so much, for whom his death has become a personal tragedy, to have the opportunity to say goodbye to him.”

Hundreds of people have apparently been arrested in the wake of Navalny’s death as they mourned him. Police are alleged to have beaten protesters and dismantled makeshift memorials.

On Monday, Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, accused the Russian authorities of preventing the family from seeing his body to hide how he was killed.