Navalny’s memorial service scheduled for Friday in Moscow

The funeral will be held at a church in the Maryino district, southeast of Moscow, on Friday afternoon

The funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier this month in a remote Arctic penal colony, will take place on Friday in Moscow after several venues refused to hold the event, his spokeswoman said.

The funeral will be held at a church in the Maryino district, southeast of Moscow, on Friday afternoon, Kira Yarmysh said Wednesday. The burial will be in the Borisovo cemetery in the same area.

The opposition’s followers will be able to say their last goodbye starting at 2:00 p.m. Moscow time (11:00 GMT), said Yarmish, who asked everyone to “arrive early” to the cathedral.

For her part, Yulia Navalnaya, the opponent’s widow, said that she feared that there would be riots and arrests at the funeral of her husband.

“I am still not sure if it will be peaceful or if the police will arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband,” she Navalnaya told the European Parliament.

“Putin is the leader of an organized criminal gang,” said Navalnaya, who has blamed the Russian president for the “murder” of her husband. “He is not a politician, but a bloody gangster.”

Navalny died in mid-February in one of the harshest prisons in Russia.

Russian authorities indicated that the cause of the death of the 47-year-old politician is still unknown, and noted that the results of his investigation will surely be questioned abroad. Many Western leaders have already blamed the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, for his death.

Yarmysh explained the difficulties her team had in finding a place for a “farewell event” for Navalny.

Most places said they were full, some “refused when we mentioned the last name ‘Navalny,’” and one revealed that “funeral homes were prohibited from working with us,” the spokesperson said on X, formerly Twitter.

Ivan Zhdanov, the head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the funeral was initially scheduled for Thursday — the day of Putin’s annual speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly — but no venue agreed to hold it then.

“The real reason is clear. The Kremlin understands that no one will need Putin and the message from him on the day we say goodbye to Alexei,” Zhdanov wrote on Telegram.

This Monday, Navalny’s allies revealed that the politician died in prison days before his exchange for Chechen Vadim Krasikov, convicted in Germany for the murder of a Georgian citizen.

The Kremlin today claimed to have no information about the possible exchange.

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