Alexei Navalny’s mother accused Russian investigators of “blackmailing” her over her son’s funeral.
Lyudmila Navalnaya, 69, revealed she was secretly taken to see his body, but state investigators refuse to hand it over to her for burial.
He made the accusation in a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, in which he accused an investigator of telling him that “time is not on your side, bodies decompose.”
Lyudmila also said that officials threatened to do “something” with Navalny’s body if she does not agree to a secret funeral without mourners.
Their revelations suggest that state investigators are trying to prevent an independent examination of the Russian opposition leader’s body for signs of torture or murder, and also prevent an open funeral at which thousands of people could come to pay tribute.
There was no immediate response from Russian investigators.
Alexei Navalny’s mother (pictured in a video released today) accused Russian investigators of “blackmailing” her during her son’s funeral.
Navalny, Putin’s strongest domestic critic, fell unconscious and died suddenly at age 47 on Friday after a walk in the ‘Polar Wolf’ penal colony above the Arctic Circle, where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the service said. penitentiary.
In the video, Navalnaya says: “I just left the building of the Investigative Committee of the city of Salekhard.
‘I spent almost a day there alone, with investigators and forensic experts.
The lawyer was only allowed in today after lunch. Yesterday afternoon I was secretly taken to the morgue, where I was shown Alexei.
“Investigators say they know the cause of death.”
He didn’t say if he knows what this is.
The West and Navalny’s supporters, including his widow Yulia, 47, say Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death.
The Kremlin has denied involvement and said Western claims that Putin was responsible were unacceptable.
Putin himself has made no public comment on Navalny’s death, but it has further deepened a huge schism in relations between Moscow and the West caused by the nearly two-year war in Ukraine.
“They have all the medical and legal documents ready, which I saw,” Navalnaya added. And I signed the death certificate. By law, they were supposed to hand Alexei’s body over to me immediately, but they haven’t done so yet.
‘Instead, they are blackmailing me, imposing conditions on where, when and how Alexei should be buried.
‘This is illegal. I have seen orders received in my presence, either from the Kremlin or from the central apparatus of the Investigative Committee.
‘They want it to be done in secret, without goodbyes. They want to take me to the outskirts of a cemetery, to a fresh grave, and tell me: “Here lies your son.” I do not agree with this.’
“I want everyone, those who appreciate Alexei, for whom his death has become a personal tragedy, to have the opportunity to say goodbye to him.
‘I’m recording this video because they started threatening me, looking me in the eyes. They say that if I don’t accept the secret funeral, they will do something to my son’s body.
Navalny, 47, fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk through the ‘Polar Wolf’ prison colony above the Arctic Circle, where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the prison service said.
Since Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine, the scope for dissent in Russia has narrowed even further. Russian authorities have tightened restrictions on expression and imprisoned critics, often ordinary people, sometimes for decades.
Hundreds of people who laid flowers in memory of Navalny across Russia were detained.
Lyudmila appeared in a video earlier this week and asked Putin to give her her son’s body so she could bury him with dignity.
Standing outside the Arctic penal colony where Navalny died on Friday, he spoke to the camera: “For the fifth day, I haven’t been able to see him.
They did not give me his body,” he said.
“And they don’t even tell me where it is,” Navalnaya, dressed in black, said in the video, next to the barbed wire of Penal Colony No. 3 in Kharp, about 1,900 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
“I am reaching out to you, Vladimir Putin,” he said. ‘The resolution of this matter depends solely on you. Let me finally see my son.
He mentioned a state investigator, Voropaev, who “openly told me: ‘Time is not on your side. The body is decomposing. I don’t want special conditions, I just want everything to be done according to the law.’
He added: “I demand that Alexei’s body be released immediately, so that he can be buried like a human being.”
Russian authorities have said the cause of Navalny’s death is still unknown and have refused to hand over his body for the next two weeks while the preliminary investigation continues, members of his team said.
They accused the government of dragging its feet to try to hide evidence.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegations of a cover-up, telling reporters that “these are absolutely baseless and insolent accusations against the head of the Russian state.”
Navalny’s death has deprived the Russian opposition of its best-known and most inspiring politician less than a month before an election that will surely give Putin another six years in power.
Many Russians had seen Navalny as a rare hope for political change amid Putin’s relentless crackdown on the opposition.
Navalny, 47, had been imprisoned since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recovering in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. Since then he has received three prison sentences, on charges he rejected as politically motivated.
Since Navalny’s death, about 400 people have been detained across Russia while trying to pay tribute to him with flowers and candles, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors political arrests.
Authorities cordoned off some of the monuments to victims of the Soviet crackdown across the country that were being used as places to leave makeshift tributes to Navalny.
The police removed the flowers at night, but more continue to appear.
Peskov said police were acting “in accordance with the law” by detaining people who paid tribute to Navalny.
More than 60,000 people have submitted requests to the government to have Navalny’s remains handed over to his relatives, OVD-Info said.
The West and Navalny’s supporters say Vladimir Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death
After the latest verdict that resulted in a 19-year sentence, Navalny said he understood he was “serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of the life of this regime.”
In a video on Monday, his widow Yulia Navalnaya said: “By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul.”
‘But I still have the other half and that tells me I have no right to give up.
“I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny,” Navalnaya said.