Yulia Navalnaya demands authorities release husband's body, calls Putin's faith 'fake'


  • World
  • Saturday, 24 Feb 2024

FILE PHOTO: Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, reacts on the day of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool/File Photo

(Reuters) - Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on Saturday demanded that Russian authorities release his body for burial and accused a "demonic" Russian President Vladimir Putin of "torturing" his corpse.

In a six minute video posted on YouTube, Navalnaya accused Putin of holding her husband's body "hostage", and questioned Putin's often-professed Christian faith.

Navalny's mother Lyudmila said on Friday that Russian investigators were refusing to release his body from a morgue in the remote Arctic city of Salekhard until she agreed to lay him to rest without a public funeral.

She said an official had told her that she should agree to their demands, as Navalny's body was already decomposing.

On Saturday, Navalny aides said that authorities had threatened to bury him in the remote prison colony where he died unless his family agreed to their conditions.

In the video, an emotional Yulia Navalnaya claimed that Putin personally was responsible for the whereabouts of Navalny's body, and that he was "torturing" Navalny in death as he had in life.

"We already knew that Putin's faith was fake. But now we see it more clearly than ever before," said Navalnaya, dressed in black.

"No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with Alexei's body."

Since returning to the Russian presidency in 2012, Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as a defender of traditional, conservative values against what he portrays as corrosive Western liberalism.

He has also trumpeted his closeness to Russia's Orthodox Church, regularly appearing at services around religious festivals, and speaking of his personal faith.

Navalnaya said her husband had been a devout Christian, who attended church and had fasted for Lent even while in prison. She said his political activism had been inspired by Christian values.

Concluding her video, she said: "Give us back the body of my husband. We want to hold a funeral service and bury him in a humane way, in the ground, as is customary in Orthodox Christianity."

(Reporting by Felix Light; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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