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Navalny’s body released after widow’s blistering attack on Putin

Russians are honouring Alexei Navalny's death  by refusing to vote in the election they know to be rigged.

Russians are honouring Alexei Navalny's death by refusing to vote in the election they know to be rigged. Photo: AAP

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has finally been confirmed as handed over to his mother, hours after his widow accused President Vladimir Putin of ‘fake’ faith.

His spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in an online post she did not know if the authorities would allow a funeral to be held “the way the family wants and the way Alexei deserves”.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, made the same announcement on his Telegram account and thanked everyone who had called on Russian authorities to return Navalny’s body to his family.

“Thank you very much. Thanks to everyone who wrote and recorded video messages. You all did what you needed to do. Thank you. Alexei Navalny’s body has been given to his mother,” Zhdanov wrote.

Earlier on Saturday (local time), Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s widow, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of mocking Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in an Arctic penal colony.

In a video she accused Putin of “breaking every law, both human and God’s,” by refusing to hand over her late husband’s remains.

She accused him of satanism and said that the Russian leader’s actions cut against his carefully crafted image as a devout Orthodox Christian protecting both the faith and the state from the infiltration of Western values, multiple media outlets reported.

Navalny, 47, Russia’s most well-known opposition politician, unexpectedly died on February 16 in an Arctic penal colony and his family have been fighting for more than a week to have his body returned to them.

Outcast among nations

Prominent Russians released videos calling on authorities to release the body and some foreign governments hit Russia with more sanctions as punishment for Navalny’s death as well as for the second anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, is still in Salekhard, Yarmysh said on X.

Lyudmila Navalnaya has been in the Arctic region for more than a week, demanding that Russian authorities return the body of her son to her.

Authorities have detained scores of people as they seek to suppress any major outpouring of sympathy for Putin’s fiercest foe before the presidential election he is almost certain to win.

Saturday marked nine days since the opposition leader’s death, a day when Orthodox Christians hold a memorial service.

— with AAP and AP

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