Chilling riot preparations ahead of Alexei Navalny’s funeral today with Putin’s army brought in amid fears of arrests

Chilling riot preparations ahead of Alexei Navalny’s funeral today with Putin’s army brought in amid fears of arrests

RIOT police have arrived at the church where Alexei Navalny’s funeral service is to be held in Moscow today.

Family, friends, and supporters of Vladimir Putin‘s most high-profile critic have gathered to bid the late opposition leader farewell – two weeks after his unexplained death.

ReutersLaw enforcement officers gather near the Borisovskoye Cemetery before the funeral of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny[/caption]

ReutersA funeral service for the late Alexei Navalny is being held in Moscow today[/caption]

ReutersHuge crowds of people stand outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows before the funeral[/caption]

AFPA mourner wipes a tear from her eye ahead of the funeral service[/caption]

ReutersA grave, reportedly for Navalny’s body, is prepared today[/caption]

More than 1,000 people waited near the church to pay their respects to the anti-corruption activist, according to one of his allies.

Navalny, 47, died in Polar Wolf jail in the Russian Arctic on February 16 while serving a 19-year sentence on trumped-up extremism charges.

It was alleged his body was found covered in bruises.

Western leaders and members of his camp have since claimed he was “murdered” on the direct orders of Putin.

Pictures and footage captured this morning outside the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows showed a major operation involving Russian police and security services.

Secret servicemen were seen patrolling the nearby rooftops; it was unclear if they were snipers or crowd-watchers.

And buses with armed police were seen in the vicinity of the church and the graveyard, along with paddy wagons, or cells on wheels – seemingly poised for expected arrests.

Iron fences surrounded the church, ostensibly intended to limit Navalny’s supporters’ access to the upcoming farewell ceremony.

Mere hours before the funeral, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said the late opposition leader’s team were unable to find a hearse to drive the body to the church.

She said: “Unknown people are calling mortuaries and threatening them if they accept to take Alexei’s body.”

The spokeswoman said this morning that Navalny’s body was being handed over to his relatives and would soon be transported to the church in a hearse – after earlier warning of a possible delay.

Authorities were said to be treating the funeral and burial as a major military operation against pro-democracy Navalny supporters.

Speculation has swirled that male pro-Navalny supporters might be detained and promptly sent away to fight in Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The late opposition leader’s team has urged his backers to try and attend today’s events – including a funeral service at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows and a subsequent burial to be held in the nearby Borisovskoye Cemetery.

Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya raised fears earlier this week that Putin will order arrests at her husband’s funeral.

Several venues in Moscow refused to hold the funeral service before the church in the city’s southeast agreed, Navalny’s team claimed.

Police put up barriers near the church yesterday and said they were checking the passports of people in the area to “prevent terrorist operations”.

An associate of Navalny’s, Ivan Zhdanov, said the funeral service at the temple “will be open to everyone”, not just relatives.

But politician Ruslan Shaveddinov, a former Navalny press secretary, claimed some activists were last night warned not to attend.

ReutersPolice officers stand guard near the Soothe My Sorrows church before the funeral[/caption]

AFPMourners gather in front of the church ahead of the funeral[/caption]

APCemetery workers prepare the entrance area of the Borisovskoye Cemetery where Navalny is to be buried[/caption]

He said: “The Moscow authorities and the Kremlin are trying to intimidate everyone who wants to come.

“I don’t want to shout, urging everyone to come, because we are talking about a funeral.

“And we treat this as organising the farewell and funeral of Alexei Navalny.”

Shaveddinov added that the warnings issued to activists were being treated “as a tool of intimidation”.

He continued: “Of course, they want to create horror so that everyone will be scared.

“But this is the farewell and funeral of Alexei Navalny, this is not a rally, not a political procession.

“This is an opportunity for a huge number of people for whom Alexei meant something, for whom he was important, to come and say goodbye to him for the last time.”

There were reports of smartphone signals being disrupted close to the funeral location.

A woman who flew 900 miles from Perm to Moscow said today: “I had high hopes for this man, he was very strong, very brave.

“I would like to see people today who also support him.

“The pain in my heart is such that I cannot describe it – so hard.”

ReutersYulia Navalnaya warned about possible arrests at her husband’s funeral[/caption]

AFPLarge crowds gather in front of the church ahead of the funeral service[/caption]

East2WestBuses with armed police have been spotted in the vicinity of the church[/caption]

East2WestIron fences are in place, limiting Navalny’s supporters seeking to farewell the leader[/caption]

East2WestPaddy wagons of the police and the National Guard pictured near Borisovo underground station[/caption]

East2WestLaw enforcement vehicles in the Maryino district of Moscow[/caption]

East2WestSeveral venues in Moscow refused to hold the funeral service before the church in the city’s southeast agreed, according to Navalny’s team[/caption]

East2WestRussian police and security services appear to be readying for arrests at the funeral[/caption]

Life of Alexei Navalny

PUTIN’S best known opponent Alexei Navalny, 47, has died in prison.

Here is a timeline that took the leader of the opposition from the face of freedom in Russia and the Kremlin’s biggest foe to a hellhole Siberian prison and onto an early grave.

June 4, 1976 — Navalny is born in a western part of the Moscow region

1997 — Graduates from Russia’s RUDN university, where he majored in law

2004 — Forms a movement against rampant over-development in Moscow

2008 — Gains notoriety for calling out corruption in state-run corporation

December 2011 — Participates in mass protests sparked by reports of widespread rigging of Russia’s election, and is arrested and jailed for 15 days for “defying a government official”

March 2012 – Further mass protests break out and Navalny accuses key Kremlin cronies of corruption

July 2012 — Russia’s Investigative Committee charges Navalny with embezzlement. He rejects the claims and says they are politically motivated

2013 — Navalny runs for mayor in Moscow

July 2013 — A court in Kirov convicts Navalny of embezzlement in the Kirovles case, sentencing him to five years in prison – he appeals and is allowed to continue campaign

September 2013 — Official results show Navalny finishes second in the mayor’s race

February 2014 — Navalny is placed under house arrest 

December 2014 — Navalny and his brother, Oleg, are found guilty of fraud 

February 2016 — The European Court of Human Rights rules that Russia violated Navalny’s right to a fair trial

November 2016 — Russia’s Supreme Court overturns Navalny’s sentence

December 2016 — Navalny announces he will run in Russia’s 2018 presidential election

February 2017 — The Kirov court retries Navalny and upholds his five-year suspended sentence from 2013

April 2017 – Survives an assassination attempt he blames on Kremlin

December 2017 — Russia’s Central Electoral Commission bars him from running for president 

August, 2020 – Navalny falls into a coma on a flight and his team suspects he was poisoned. German authorities confirm he was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent.

Jan 2021 — After five months in Germany, Navalny is arrested upon his return to Russia

Feb 2021 — A Moscow court orders Navalny to serve 2 ½ years in prison

June 2021 — A Moscow court shuts down Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his extended political network

Feb 2022 — Russia invades Ukraine

March 2022 — Navalny is sentenced to an additional nine-year term for embezzlement and contempt of court

2023 — Over 400 Russian doctors sign an open letter to Putin, urging an end to what it calls abuse of Navalny, following reports that he was denied basic medication & suffering from slow poisoning

April, 2023 — Navalny from inside prison says he was facing new extremism and terrorism charges that could keep him behind bars for the rest of his life

Aug 2023 – A court in Russia extends Navalny’s prison sentence by 19 years

Dec 2023 – He disappears from his prison as his team fear he could be assassination. He then reappears weeks later in one of Siberia’s toughest prisons – the ‘Polar Wolf’ colony

Leave a comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *