Sunday, March 3, 2024

Russians Remember Alexei Navalny

"Eternal Memory." Alexei Navalny was buried on March 1, with the full rituals of the Russian Orthodox Church that had been the vital inspiration for most of his adult life.

After his death was announced on February 16, his mother undertook the long and difficult journey to the Gulag-built town of Kharp beyond the Arctic Circle to ask for her son's body. She persevered for nine days in her demands, while security officials stalled, made excuses, and then began to negotiate (shamelessly!) the "conditions" that she would have to accept in order to receive her son's body for a proper Christian burial in Moscow. They insisted that she agree to hold a "private" burial, because the government feared that his funeral might be the occasion of massive anti-Putinist demonstrations.

Even after killing him, the regime was determined to persecute Alexei Navalny. But in fact, this is not Stalin's Soviet Russia. Social media and Navalny's exiled wife made sure to broadcast this final disgrace around the world, and his body was finally released to his grieving mother without conditions, and the government permitted the funeral to be held at a small church south of Moscow.

Thousands of people did gather at the cemetery under heavy police guard. They waited many hours on huge lines in order to honor the grave of their hero, even though they were only given a few seconds each by the police.

They have continued in these recent days to visit the grave and to lay flowers before the cross.