Alexei Navalny's body returned to his mother, spokesman says

Credit: AP

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, made the announcement on his Telegram account and thanked “everyone” who had called on Russian authorities to return his body to his mother.

“Thank you very much. Thanks to everyone who wrote and recorded video messages. You all did what you needed to do. Thank you. Alexei Navalny's body has been given to his mother,” Mr Zhdanov wrote.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, his widow, accused President Vladimir Putin of mocking Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in a penal colony.

Mrs Navalnaya said in a video released on Saturday that Navalny's mother is being “literally tortured” by authorities who had threatened to bury Navalny in the Arctic prison.

Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia after a rally in Moscow in 2013. Credit: AP

They suggested to his mother that she does not have much time to make a decision because the body is decomposing, she added.

“Give us the body of my husband,” Mrs Navalnaya said. “You tortured him alive, and now you keep torturing him dead. You mock the remains of the dead."

Navalny, 47, was Russia’s most well-known opposition politician and died on February 16 in the penal colony, prompting hundreds of Russians across the country to stream to impromptu memorials with flowers and candles.

Authorities have detained scores of people as they seek to suppress any major outpouring of sympathy for Putin’s fiercest foe before the presidential election he is almost certain to win.

Mrs Navalnaya has accused Putin, an Orthodox Christian, of killing her husband.

“No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with the body of Alexei,” she said. “What will you do with his corpse? How low will you sink to mock the man you murdered?”

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