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Navalny buried among cops and protestors


Some of the late opposition leader Navalny's close allies were detained or fled, while hundreds faced the barricades.


Surrounded by weeping family members and supporters, Alexi Navalny lay in an open casket in a Moscow cathedral on Friday beneath a bed of rosescarnations, and chrysanthemums, his face pallid in the candlelight. It was not, despite appearances, your typical funeral. Lyudmilla, his mother, had just returned from wresting his body from Russian investigators in the Arctic. She was wearing sunglasses and a black headscarf. Furthermore, a large number of the opposition leader's closest allies were completely absent.


Yulia, Navalny's wife, who has promised to continue her husband's work and is unable to remain in Russia without running the risk of being accused of "extremism," was not present. Rather than saying goodbye in person, she posted a message on Instagram. She wrote, "Yes, even in the last three years of happiness. Lyosha, thank you for 26 years of absolute happiness." Then, she made a reference to his imprisonment.


She remarked, "I will try to make you happy for me and proud of me up there. I do not know how to live without you." "I'll do my best, but I'm not sure if I can do it."


Neither of his two children was present; they will most likely grow up and live in exile until Vladimir Putin steps down. Nor were his closest allies, many of whom have been apprehended or have left the country in fear of the system's deliberate dismantling of his political organisation during the previous three years.


Numerous people braved the police-erected roadblocks and checkpoints on Friday before the funeral, and during the day, over 250,000 people simultaneously watched an online live broadcast, sharing scenes from the events despite the police's ongoing signal jamming. It was the biggest opposition public meeting since the early stages of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and it offered some much-needed optimism in the otherwise dire circumstances facing Russia.


One of Navalny's closest alliesLeonid Volkov, looked visibly upset and said, "Our live stream has frozen but thank you to the British journalists who managed to put a camera through the fences of the Borisovo cemetery and film the most terrible scenes that we could imagine because this is an image that never should have existed." Volkov described "how [Navalny's parents] say goodbye to their son, cover his face and close his coffin."


"Since they are our representatives, it's doubly and triply important that they be allowed to say goodbye," he went on. "Because hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are unable to be there at this time."

Few people in Russian opposition politics could endure the relentless pressure that Navalny applied over more than ten years of organising protests against the Kremlin. He was a unique force in the field. Even at the very end, he maintained his sense of humour, asking that the last theme from Terminator 2 be played by an orchestra as his coffin was lowered into the ground. The soundtrack of the movie plays like a robotic in a heartfelt farewell, Arnold Schwarzenegger is plunged into molten steel. Volkov said that the Terminator movie's soundtrack is highly significant. "Alexei was a huge fan of this movie."


A protest under a different name was what the funeral was to several of the attendees. A few people risked arrest by chanting "Navalny!" in support of a convicted "extremist" or by organising an unapproved demonstration. Others screamed, "No to War!" Discrediting the Russian military or the "special military operation" in Ukraine carries a sentence of years in prison. "Putin is a murderer!" was chanted by others.


Navalny's supporters gave his parents hugs and consolation as they left the Icon of the Mother of God "Assuage My Sorrows" Church. One mom said, "Thank you, your son is a martyr." to them. Crowds behind metal barricades tossed red carnations and roses in the path of the hearse carrying his casket as it passed.


Navalny resided in Marino, the bedroom neighbourhood where his burial service was conducted, so he was familiar with these streets. Almost ten years prior, Navalny participated in a demonstration in the neighbourhood with opposition figures Boris Nemtsov (slain in 2015) and Ilya Yashin (sent to prison for eight and a half years for opposing the conflict in Ukraine). It was no coincidence that the place was chosen. At the time, the opposition was being driven from central Moscow by the Kremlin, which would only allow a protest outside of the city.


It attempted to hide Navalny's followers on Friday as well, but thousands of them showed up despite the dangers, bearing witness to the adoration and allegiance that the opposition leader had built over more than ten years. It is difficult to predict who will succeed him.


His backers have promised to carry on his fight. "You'll be pleased with us," his press secretary Kira Yarmysh wrote.

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