Home World Europe News Alexei Navalny Funeral: Thousands Chant Anti-Putin Slogans During Memorial Service

Alexei Navalny Funeral: Thousands Chant Anti-Putin Slogans During Memorial Service


Thousands of Russians have defied fear to turn out to bid farewell to Alexei Navalny.

Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, died in jail on February 16.

Authorities had warned any protest would be illegal. But police – deployed in numbers – stood by as the crowd chanted Navalny’s name, or their opposition to the Russian president.

Supporters and relatives, as well as many foreign leaders, have blamed Vladimir Putin for his death.

Alexei Navalny
Image source Wikimedia

Russian authorities deny any such accusation, saying Alexei Navalny died of natural causes. He had been serving a long sentence on trumped-up charges in a penal colony in the Arctic.

It was feared that the authorities would crack down on March 1 funeral proceedings.

A heavy police presence was visible in Maryino, the area of Moscow where the funeral was held – and where Navalny lived with his family for many years.

At one point, Navalny’s team estimated that the line of people stretched well over 0.6 miles, despite the grey winter’s day in which temperatures hovered at just above freezing.

Yet none of the policemen – many of whom were in full riot gear – intervened when expressions of support for Navalny became overtly political.

Thousands chanted out “no to war”, “Russia without Putin” and “Russia will be free” – slogans that have previously landed many Russians in jail.

The memorial service began just after 14:00 Moscow time at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows.

It followed much uncertainty and complaints by Navalny’s team that the authorities had been making the arrangements difficult – even finding a hearse was an issue.

However, hundreds started to arrive hours before proceedings were meant to begin. They were later joined by foreign dignitaries, including the US, German and French ambassadors.

The ceremony inside the church was brief – an image on social media showed the open coffin that is commonplace in Russia, with mourners paying respects. Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila, and his father, Anatoly, were seen sitting alongside.

As the church bell tolled and Navalny’s coffin was brought outside, people tossed roses and carnations onto the hearse and cried: “We won’t forget you!”

Alexei Navalny’s widow Yulia, his children Daria, 23, and Zakhar, 15, and his brother Oleg – are all thought to be living abroad and were not present.

Yulia has recently declared she is going to continue his political work – meaning it is possibly unsafe for her to return to Russia, where Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has been declared an extremist organisation.

She shared a poignant tribute on social media while the funeral was under way, thanking Navalny for “26 years of absolute happiness”.

“I don’t know how to live without you, but I will try to do it so you – up there – can be happy and proud of me,” she said.

Their daughter Darya also posted a message online, describing Navalny as her “hero”.

“You have always been and forever will be my example,” she wrote.

In the absence of an independent Russian media, Navalny’s team at the Anti-Corruption Foundation took it upon themselves to provide a live stream of the funeral ceremonies.

The YouTube channel from which Navalny regularly addressed his supporters broadcast scenes from his funeral. More than a quarter of a million people tuned in throughout the day.

The burial finally took place at Borisovskoye cemetery around 16:00.

Alexei Navalny’s coffin was lowered into the ground to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s My Way and to an orchestral rendition of the Terminator 2 theme song.

“Navalny thought The Terminator 2 was the best film in the whole world,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on social media.

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.