Advertisement

Kremlin calls claim that Russia pressured Alexei Navalny's mother absurd

FILE PHOTO: Navalny's mother accuses Russian investigators of blackmailing her over son's funeral

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Monday called allegations that Russian authorities had pressured the mother of Alexei Navalny over her son's funeral absurd, saying President Vladimir Putin had not been involved in decisions on Navalny's body.

A spokeswoman for Navalny, who suddenly died aged 47 at an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16, said on Friday that Russian authorities had given his 69-year-old mother Lyudmila an ultimatum: Agree within three hours to lay him to rest without a public funeral or he would be buried at the prison.

Navalny's mother had complained a day earlier about the difficulty she was having getting her son's body handed over and had accused Russian investigators of trying to blackmail her over the funeral arrangements.

The late opposition politician's body was handed over to his mother in the Arctic city of Salekhard on Saturday. The arrangements for his burial have yet to be announced.

Asked if he would comment on the alleged official pressure put on Navalny's mother, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday:

"I can't comment in any way because the Kremlin has nothing to do with this, so the Kremlin cannot exert pressure. This is another absurd statement by these (Navalny) supporters.

"They are almost all wanted (by the Russian authorities) and almost all of them are abroad. Their statements should be treated accordingly."

Asked if appeals made to Putin by Navalny's mother and Yulia, his wife, had helped speed the body's handover, Peskov said that the Russian president had not been involved in the process.

"The head of state does not manage these issues in any way. There are certain services and relevant processes that go in accordance with the established rules for such situations," he said.

When asked if Putin had had anything to do with the issues around the body's handover, which Navalny's supporters said had been suspiciously slow, Peskov said "No."

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)