Navalny's body handed over to his mother

The body of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, more than a week after his death in an Arctic prison colony, his spokeswoman said.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critic, died on February 16 in one of Russia's toughest prisons in northern Siberia, where he was serving a 19-year sentence on charges seen as political retribution for his opposition.

"Alexei's body was handed over to his mother. Many thanks to everyone who requested this with us," spokeswoman Kira Yarmish wrote on the X network.

Last week, Russian authorities refused to give Lyudmila Navalny the body of her son after she traveled to the town of Salekhard in the Yamalo-Nenets region, which is the closest settlement to the prison colony where Navalny died. Navalny's team said Friday it had filed a lawsuit to obtain the body, claiming local investigators had threatened to bury it on prison grounds if his mother did not agree to a "secret" burial.

Yarmish said plans for the burial are still unclear. "Lyudmila Ivanovna is still in Salekhard. The funeral is still to come. We don't know if the authorities will step in to carry it out the way the family wants and Alexei deserves," she said.

His team said earlier that the Kremlin was trying to block a public funeral that could become a show of support for Navalny's movement and his opposition to Putin. The Russian leader, who has never spoken Navalny's name in public, has not commented on the death of his most vocal critic. /BGNES, AFP