Russia says its final farewell to Navalny

The Bell

Thousands of people took to the streets to see Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny take his final journey on Friday at his funeral service and burial in Moscow. Despite fears of a widespread crackdown, the police refrained from mass arrests, even as the crowds chanted banned anti-war slogans.

  • Navalny, an Orthodox Christian, had a private funeral service at a church in the Maryino district of Moscow where he had lived for many years with his family. As is tradition, he was placed in the center of the church in an open casket. The ceremony was attended only by his family members still in Russia (not his wife, Yulia, their children or his brother, Oleg, who are all in exile) and a few others who managed to get inside the church. After the service, the coffin was closed and Navalny’s body was driven to a nearby cemetery to be interred.
  • The thousands of mourners unable to enter the church filed down to the cemetery in a huge column to pay their final respects to the opposition leader.
  • Navalny’s coffin was lowered into the ground to the soundtrack of Terminator 2, his favorite film, and Frank Sinatra’s My Way. The comments section on the My Way track on YouTube has since turned into a book of remembrance for the late politician. 
  • According to the most conservative estimates, 16,500 people came to the cemetery on the day of the burial. Although the crowds chanted anti-war slogans and recited Navalny's name – something that several Russian courts recognize as “extremist symbols”, the police made just six arrests
  • Thousands more came to the cemetery over the weekend to lay flowers and place placards at Navalny’s grave. By Sunday there were so many bunches of roses and carnations that the Orthodox cross at the head of the grave had been completely covered in flowers.

Why the world should care

Russia has lost its leading independent politician and probably the only serious rival to Vladimir Putin. In two weeks, the president will be re-elected for his fifth term of office, a mandate that will keep him in power until 2030.


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