Russians Attend Funeral for Alexei Navalny, Putin’s Former Political Rival

Thousands of Russians gathered to honor Alexei Navalny, a leading opposition figure who died under controversial circumstances, with many viewing the Kremlin as responsible for his demise. The event, marked by chants against President Putin and in support of democratic freedoms, showcased a significant public demonstration of dissent despite the government’s crackdown on opposition activities.

Paying Last Respects

On Saturday, thousands of Russians flocked to pay their last respects to Alexei Navalny, the most prominent opposition figure in the country. Navalny died in jail on February 16 due to disputed circumstances, with his supporters blaming President Vladimir Putin’s government for his death and possible assassination.

The thousands-strong public crowd publicly chanted Navalny’s name and slogans, which targeted Putin and rule over Russia. The crowd at Alexei Navalny’s funeral and memorial events chanted slogans such as “no to war,” “Russia without Putin,” “Russia will be free,” “Freedom to Political Prisoners!” and “No to war!” Additionally, some chants specifically voiced support for Ukraine, with phrases like “Ukrainians are good people.” 

As a whole, these slogans collectively expressed opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s government, the war in Ukraine, and a desire for democratic freedoms and political reform in Russia.

Despite the protests being illegal at the time and the hundreds of police set in place to stop any demonstration, the crowd continued without intervention from the police.

Foreign Support

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were among international dignitaries who praised the courage of the mourners, terming it as a symbol of Navalny’s opposition legacy against Putin’s rule.

Despite the potential risks involved in doing so. Macron, in particular, commemorated the event on social media, describing it as a continuation of Navalny’s legacy and concluding with the phrase “Memory eternal.”

This acknowledgment from prominent European leaders highlights international support for Navalny’s cause and the significance of public demonstrations against the Russian government, even in the face of potential legal and physical repercussions.

Difficulties in Organization

The Navalny memorial service, organized by unauthorized allies, was difficult to spread awareness of due to the interference of authorities. However, the service was still attended by huge crowds and foreign dignitaries at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows in Moscow.

Navalny’s wife and two children were not present at the funeral because they live abroad over safety concerns. However, his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, said she would continue with his political agenda and help lead his Anti-Corruption Foundation

Though Navalny’s funeral was not televised, there was an online live stream that received a great amount of online viewership. 

Cracking Down on Dissent

Despite the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent, the amount of people who watched the funeral shows the influence of Navalny in his capability to mobilize support either in person or digitally.

Navalny was laid to rest with a musical accompaniment corresponding to his favorite songs like “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and the theme from “Terminator 2,” symbolizing even in death his own brand of rebellion.

The human rights monitoring group OVD-Info said at least 91 arrests took place across Russia in connection with the funeral, a sign of the government’s relentlessness in repressing opposition activities.

The Division in Russia

Navalny’s death and the public mourning that followed also emphasized how deep the division within Russian society is and what kind of gauntlet he was really throwing at Putin’s rule. This division is exemplified by a very large turnout for his funeral despite the risks of arrest and repression.

The response from the public, which included tributes and demonstrations all across the country, indicates a significant amount of Russians resilient or unyielding in their desire for democratic reforms with the will to oppose the regime led by Putin.

Due to the wide support he received in life and death, Navalny’s legacy is likely to outlast and inspire support for any alternative visions of Russia’s future for years to come. Even in death, Navalny’s legacy may survive to ensure a lasting deep impact on Russian politics and society that challenges the Kremlin’s claims to broad support for Putin’s policies.

The post Russians Attend Funeral for Alexei Navalny, Putin’s Former Political Rival first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mo Photography Berlin.

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