‘Let me finally see my son’: Navalny’s mother demands body from Putin

Kremlin says widow Yulia’s accusations that Navalny was poisoned by a nerve agent are ‘unfounded and vulgar’.

Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gather to mourn his death, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., February 16
Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny gather to mourn his death, in Beverly Hills, California, US., February 16, 2024 [Jorge Garcia/Reuters]

The mother of dead Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has demanded that President Vladimir Putin hand over his body so that she could bury him.

“I appeal to you, Vladimir Putin. Resolving this issue depends on you alone. Let me finally see my son,” said Lyudmila Navalnaya in a video message on Tuesday, making her plea as the Kremlin denied any involvement in the death of Navalny on February 16 while serving a sentence at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony above the Arctic Circle.

In a video filmed in front of the prison, Navalny’s mother said she did not even know where her son’s corpse was.

“For a fifth day I cannot see him, they aren’t giving me his body and don’t even tell me where he is,” she said, adding that she demanded his body be “released immediately so that I can bury him humanely”.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov hit back at accusations made by Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s widow, that her 47-year-old husband had been poisoned by a nerve agent, calling her claims “unfounded and vulgar”.

Peskov, who said he was “not familiar” with Navalnaya’s statement made in a video address broadcast on Monday, declined to comment further, saying that he was “taking into account that Yulia Navalnaya was widowed just days ago”. The Kremlin said Putin had not watched her video statement.

In her video three days after her husband’s death and less than a month before Russia’s presidential election, Navalnaya signalled her determination to fight for a “free Russia”.

She said the authorities had not yet handed over Navalny’s body to his elderly mother because they were waiting for traces of a Novichok nerve agent to leave his corpse.

Navalny’s allies have quoted a Russian investigator as saying the authorities need at least 14 days to conduct various chemical tests on his body and cannot therefore hand his body over yet.

Navalnaya also called on the European Union not to recognise the results of the presidential election, slated for March 15-17, which is almost certain to give Putin another six-year term.

“A president who assassinated his main political opponent cannot be legitimate by definition,” Navalnaya said in her speech.

Putin has warned that there will be a strong response if foreign powers try to meddle in the election.

Calls for investigation rejected

Peskov rejected the EU’s call on Monday for an “international investigation” into Navalny’s death following talks in Brussels with Navalnaya hosted by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“We do not accept such demands in general – all the more so from Mr Borrell,” Peskov said.

The West and Navalny’s supporters say Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. The Kremlin has denied involvement and said that Western claims that Putin was responsible were unacceptable.

Putin has made no public comment on Navalny’s death but it has further deepened a schism in relations between Moscow and the West caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Asked about the hundreds of detentions of Russians at events mourning Navalny’s death in recent days, Peskov said: “Law-enforcement agencies are acting in accordance with the law”.

Russian authorities say that Navalny fell unconscious and died suddenly after a walk at the penal colony.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies