Attempts to hire a hearse to take Navalny to his own funeral have been blocked -spokesperson

By Thomson Reuters Feb 29, 2024 | 8:30 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Allies of deceased Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny said on Thursday that attempts to hire a hearse to take his body to his own funeral in Moscow the following day had been thwarted by unknown individuals.

Kira Yarmysh, a spokesperson for Navalny, said on X that unknown individuals had been threatening hearse providers by phone and that nobody had agreed to transport his body as a result.

Ivan Zhdanov, another ally, said Navalny’s team would cope and find a solution anyway.

Navalny, who died on Feb. 16 aged 47 in an Arctic penal colony, is due to be buried in the Russian capital on Friday after a church service in the southeastern suburb where he used to live.

The Kremlin critic’s allies – who have promised to livestream his funeral service online – have accused the authorities of blocking a civil memorial service that they wanted to hold for him.

The Kremlin has said it has nothing to do with such arrangements.

On Thursday, Navalny’s allies called on people who wanted to honour his memory but could not attend his funeral service to instead go to certain landmarks in their own towns on Friday evening at 7 p.m. local time.

Judging from previous gatherings of Navalny supporters – whom Russian authorities have designated as U.S.-backed extremists – a heavy police presence is likely and the authorities will break up anything they deem to resemble a political demonstration under protest laws.

Navalny’s wife Yulia has said she is unsure whether the funeral itself will pass off peacefully or whether police will arrest attendees.

Navalny’s allies have accused President Vladimir Putin of having him murdered because the Russian leader could allegedly not tolerate the thought of Navalny being freed in a potential prisoner swap.

They have not published proof to back up that accusation, but have promised to set out how he was murdered and by whom.

The Kremlin has denied state involvement in his death and has said it was unaware of any agreement to free Navalny. His death certificate – according to allies – said he died of natural causes.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)