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Hundreds of individuals in Russia gathered for the funeral of Alexei Navalny, the outspoken Putin critic who died in prison last month. Despite a substantial police presence and erected barricades, mourners broke into applause as Navalny’s body was brought into a church near Moscow. Attendees knowingly risked arrest for expressing support, while Navalny’s wife squarely pointed the finger at President Putin for his demise, contrary to Moscow’s claim of natural causes.

Navalny’s memorial service commenced at 14:00 Moscow time at the Church of the Icon of Our Lady Quench My Sorrows, with notable foreign diplomats present in solidarity. Following the service, Navalny was laid to rest at Borisovskoye Cemetery. Despite efforts to broadcast the event live, disruptions to mobile signals hindered streaming, leaving many unable to witness the proceedings.

Despite warnings from the Kremlin, mourners seized the opportunity to voice their admiration for Navalny’s bravery and questioned the authorities’ apparent fear. Navalny’s team encountered challenges in organizing the funeral, including difficulties in procuring a hearse. Supporters abroad were urged to participate in memorial services, reminiscent of past public displays of grief for opposition figures.

Concerns about surveillance and the potential for post-funeral detentions were widespread, with social media platforms sharing advice urging attendees to exercise caution. The gathering was marked by a sense of defiance against government crackdowns on dissent.

Navalny’s immediate family, excluding his children residing abroad, attended the ceremony. However, his widow, Yulia, faced potential arrest upon her return to Russia, further underscoring the risks associated with opposition activism in the country.

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Alexei Navalny’s burial is confirmed to take place at Borisovskoye Cemetery in Moscow on Friday, following a farewell ceremony at a local church. Yulia Navalnaya, his widow, expressed uncertainty about the funeral’s peacefulness and the potential for police interference.

Navalny, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, died unexpectedly in a Siberian prison earlier this month, sparking accusations against the Russian president from his widow and many world leaders. Details surrounding Navalny’s death remain scant, with Russian authorities initially resisting releasing his body to his family.

Funeral arrangements faced obstacles, with some funeral homes refusing service due to the deceased’s identity. Yulia Navalnaya addressed the European Parliament, criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and advocating for a more effective strategy against Putin.

The funeral date was adjusted due to logistical challenges, with Navalny’s team urging attendees to arrive early. Security concerns loom over the event, given recent arrests of those paying tribute to Navalny across Russia. Allegations surfaced of a potential prisoner swap involving Navalny, but the Kremlin denies any knowledge of such arrangements.

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Sweden has cleared the final obstacle to its NATO membership after Hungary’s parliament voted to ratify its bid, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Initially met with delays and accusations of hostility from Hungary, Sweden’s application gained traction as Prime Minister Viktor Orban signaled support, emphasizing solidarity between the two nations.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hailed the parliamentary ratification as a historic milestone, marking a significant departure from Sweden’s longstanding policy of neutrality spanning two centuries. This decision reflects Sweden’s commitment to defending its values and interests within the framework of the NATO alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lauded Hungary’s approval, emphasizing its role in strengthening and ensuring the security of the alliance. With parliamentary hurdles cleared, Sweden now awaits the formal invitation to join the 31-member NATO group, signaling a transformative shift in its defense posture and regional security dynamics.

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Maria Pevchikh, an ally of Alexei Navalny, revealed that plans were underway for Navalny’s release in a prisoner exchange deal. The exchange was intended to involve Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany for murder, along with two detained US citizens in Russia. Negotiations for this swap had been ongoing for two years but gained momentum after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Concrete plans for the exchange were reportedly made in December, with American and German officials involved in the talks.

However, according to Pevchikh, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed his mind at the last minute, leading to Navalny’s sudden death in prison. Pevchikh claimed that Putin’s deep-seated animosity towards Navalny, driven by the perceived threat he posed to Putin’s power, motivated the decision to sabotage the deal. Despite the existence of a firm agreement, Putin allegedly opted to eliminate Navalny rather than allow him to be released.

These revelations come amid continued speculation and international scrutiny surrounding Navalny’s death. While the German government has refrained from commenting on Pevchikh’s claims, the Kremlin has yet to provide an official response. However, Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesperson, had previously dismissed allegations of government involvement in Navalny’s death as absurd.

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Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of Alexei Navalny, stated in a video that she was shown her son’s body by Russian authorities, but they are pressuring her to agree to a “secret” burial. She reported signing a death certificate at a morgue. Navalny’s press secretary mentioned a medical report indicating natural causes, while his widow believes he was killed by Russian authorities. Navalnaya expressed frustration at officials refusing to hand over her son’s body and alleged blackmail, stating that they are dictating conditions for the burial. She demanded the return of Navalny’s body and claimed threats from authorities.

Navalnaya met with US President Joe Biden along with Navalny’s widow and daughter in San Francisco. Biden praised Navalny’s courage and anti-corruption efforts, announcing forthcoming sanctions on Russia. Navalny died in a penal colony on February 16, purportedly after falling ill during a walk, though his widow accuses Putin of ordering his killing. The Kremlin denies involvement, dismissing Western reactions as “hysterical.”

Analysts suggest that showing Navalnaya the body aims to negotiate a non-politicized funeral. Navalny was previously poisoned with Novichok in 2020, survived after treatment in Germany, then imprisoned upon returning to Russia in 2021. Russian authorities have aggressively cracked down on attempts to commemorate Navalny’s death, detaining hundreds and removing makeshift memorials.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin recently presented North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a luxurious Russian-made car, as reported by Pyongyang’s state media. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the gift, specifying that it was an Aurus, a high-end luxury sedan similar to those favored by Putin himself.

This gesture highlights the deepening relationship between the two nations, particularly in light of Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine. Despite facing international sanctions, suspicions persist regarding military collaboration between Russia and North Korea, with allegations of North Korea providing artillery and missile support to Russia for its war efforts.

The exchange occurred during Kim’s visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome last September, which marked his first trip abroad in four years. During this visit, Putin personally showed Kim his Aurus limousine and gifted him firearms, further solidifying their rapport.

Kim’s sister, Yo Jong, praised the car gift as emblematic of the close personal bond shared between the two leaders. However, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry criticized the gesture, citing UN sanctions that prohibit the supply of luxury vehicles to North Korea.

While the relationship between Putin and Kim may not display the same level of camaraderie seen between Kim and former US President Donald Trump, both leaders recognize the strategic benefits of fostering closer ties. Plans for Putin to visit Pyongyang in the future have been hinted at by both sides, indicating the ongoing development of their diplomatic relationship.

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The body discovered in Spain, suspected to be that of Maxim Kuzminov, a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine in the previous year, was found near Alicante. Despite Spanish authorities withholding public confirmation of his identity, Ukrainian intelligence has acknowledged his demise. The victim was located with documents aligning with Kuzminov’s nationality, albeit bearing a different name, indicating potential use of a false identity.

Kuzminov’s defection unfolded in August when he flew a helicopter into Ukrainian territory, a maneuver termed “Operation Synytsia.” He declared opposition to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine as his primary motivation for switching allegiance. Despite offers of protection and incentives to remain in Ukraine, Kuzminov opted to relocate to Spain.

While Russian authorities have refrained from official commentary, Sergei Naryshkin of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service denounced Kuzminov as a traitor and criminal. Following Kuzminov’s defection, a Russian intelligence officer hinted at his potential demise before facing trial.

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The family of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who recently died in a Russian prison, has reportedly been informed that his body will not be released for two weeks. According to a representative for Navalny, his mother was told that his body is being held for “chemical analysis”. Despite efforts to locate the body, there has been no confirmation of its whereabouts from Russian authorities, and attempts to find it have been repeatedly blocked. Navalny’s wife has accused Russian authorities of concealing his body and alleged that it is being held until traces of Novichok, the nerve agent used in a previous poisoning attempt on Navalny, disappear.

In a video statement, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, accused President Putin of being responsible for her husband’s death and called on viewers to join her in seeking justice. Navalny’s death was announced on Friday, with authorities stating that he had never regained consciousness after collapsing during a walk in the Siberian penal colony where he was imprisoned. His mother and lawyer rushed to the colony upon hearing the news, but their attempts to locate the body have been thwarted by prison officials and local authorities.

The Kremlin has stated that an investigation into Navalny’s death is ongoing, but no results have been reported thus far. Navalny’s spokeswoman has said that investigators informed Navalny’s mother that the body would not be released for two weeks due to “chemical analysis”.

Western leaders have blamed President Putin for Navalny’s death and are considering imposing new sanctions on Russia in response. The UK Foreign Secretary has indicated that Britain and other G7 nations are likely to impose fresh sanctions on individuals implicated in Navalny’s death. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed these statements as “arrogant” and “unacceptable”, while Russian prison authorities have attributed Navalny’s death to “sudden death syndrome”.

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The Munich Rule emphasizes engagement and interaction over lecturing or ignoring one another. However, at the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC), attention was drawn to the absence of two influential figures: former US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their potential impacts on the transatlantic relationship and global stability were significant topics of discussion, especially in light of Putin’s actions regarding Alexei Navalny and Ukraine.

The conference reflected a world characterized by increasing confrontation and diminishing cooperation, as noted by EU’s Josep Borrell. The theme of “lose-lose” dynamics pervaded discussions, highlighting the deepening geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties.

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, described the conference as emblematic of a disorderly world marked by impunity, exemplified by Navalny’s situation. Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, made a powerful statement condemning Putin’s regime, underscoring the personal stakes involved in global politics.

Russia and Iran’s absence from the conference signaled a lack of interest in meaningful dialogue, contrasting with past confrontational speeches by their representatives. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed the urgency of Western support amid ongoing conflict, especially with US assistance facing obstacles in Congress.

The Israel-Gaza conflict highlighted the international community’s call for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid, but Israeli delegates emphasized the strategic necessity of their actions against Hamas.

The conference, with its record attendance, showcased the diverse array of global stakeholders grappling with shifting notions of security. While historically a platform for diplomacy, this year’s event primarily focused on dialogue and assessment amid heightened global tensions.

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Alexei Navalny, the prominent opposition figure in Russia, has tragically passed away in a jail located in the Arctic Circle, according to the prison service. Navalny, who had been a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism that many believed to be politically motivated. His death has sparked outrage and accusations of foul play from his allies and supporters.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, has called on the international community to hold the Russian regime accountable for his death. His close ally, Ivan Zhdanov, has suggested that Navalny may have been murdered, a sentiment echoed by many who oppose Putin’s government.

Navalny’s sudden decline in health occurred shortly after a walk, according to the prison service. Despite efforts to resuscitate him, Navalny could not be revived.

In response to Navalny’s death, there have been calls for protests in Russia, although authorities have warned against participating in such demonstrations. Several individuals have already been detained in various cities.

Navalny’s death has drawn condemnation from leaders around the world, with many pointing fingers at Putin’s government for its alleged role in his demise. US President Joe Biden, among others, has held Putin responsible for what he called “proof of Putin’s brutality.”

Navalny’s journey as an opposition figure in Russia has been marked by challenges and dangers, including a poisoning incident in August 2020 with a nerve agent. Despite facing multiple obstacles, Navalny remained determined to challenge Putin’s rule, even as his health deteriorated and he endured harsh conditions in prison.

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