Navalny team calls on people to attend his funeral in Moscow

Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexey Navalny, stands in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament and speaks. Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny died this month in Russian captivity. Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa
Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexey Navalny, stands in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament and speaks. Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny died this month in Russian captivity. Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa
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The team of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who died in custody, has called on people to attend the funeral service and burial of the leading opposition figure in Moscow on Friday, despite the expected police presence.

The church service is planned for 2 pm (1100 GMT), with the burial at the Borisov cemetery scheduled for two hours later, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh announced on Thursday.

Everyone to whom Navalny's political work meant something should attend, she said. The walk from the church, which is dedicated to the "Assuage My Sorrows" icon of the Mother of God, to the cemetery takes 28 minutes, the announcement said.

Navalny's team plans to report live on the internet about the funeral service in the south-eastern district of Maryino as well as about the burial and recommended that guests arrive early.

A large security presence is expected - and there are fears that uniformed officers could block access to Navalny's supporters.

Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya has also issued an appeal to attend the funeral service. Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, received her son's body on Saturday after days of demanding that the authorities hand it over to her. She rejected holding a secret burial as initially demanded by the authorities.

Over the past few days, Navalny's team had been looking for a place for the funeral service and complained that they were being obstructed by the Russian authorities.

According to Russian Orthodox custom, the dead are buried after three days, with their bodies laid out in an open coffin beforehand so that mourners can bid farewell. However, a room for such a farewell ritual was not made available, wrote Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the anti-corruption fund founded by Navalny.