Mourners arrive for Navalny funeral in Moscow; heavy police presence expected

Vyacheslav Gimadi, who was a member of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s legal team, on Friday said mourners should not face “problems,” but offered legal advice to those with questions.

“The funeral of Alexei Navalny is not a rally; those wishing to say goodbye should have no problems. But in any case, there is support,” Gimadi wrote on social platform X, according to a Google translation.

Gimadi linked to a Telegram page where he said consultants and lawyers would be answering questions.

He also shared an infographic showing there would be an approximately 30 minute walk between the Moscow church where a memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. local time, and the cemetery where the burial is due to take place at 4 p.m.

Images and videos shared on social media Friday morning by Navalny allies showed rows of dozens of people gathering outside the church.

— Jenni Reid

Mourners gather in front of the Mother of God Quench My Sorrows church ahead of a funeral service for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Moscow’s district of Maryino on March 1, 2024. 

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

Images on Friday morning showed mourners beginning to arrive at a Moscow church in the Maryino district ahead of the memorial service for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which will be held at 2 p.m. local time.

Navalny’s supporters have urged people to attend and said they expect crowds, but warned they do not know whether there will be arrests amid high political tensions.

— Jenni Reid

Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops from the village of Orlivka, west of Avdiivka, but the situation on the eastern front remains difficult, Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Thursday.

Orlivka is less than 2 kilometres (1-1/2 miles) northwest of Lastochkyne, which was occupied this week by Russian forces.

Russian forces last week captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka after a months-long assault and are pressing on other areas along the front line, Ukrainian authorities say.

Ukraine’s military said this week it had withdrawn from two more villages near Avdiivka, losing more territory as support from its Western allies runs short.

“The enemy continues active offensive actions in many areas of the front line. The situation is particularly tense in the Avdiivka and Zaporizhzhia sectors,” Syrskyi said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said Russian assault units were trying to break through the Ukrainian defences and capture the settlements of Tonenke, Orlivka, Semenivka, Berdychi and Krasnohorivka.

Russia’s Defence Ministry, in its daily account of front-line activity, said its forces had secured more advantageous positions in the Avdiivka sector and inflicted losses on Ukrainian units around Orlivka and nearby villages.

Reuters was unable to verify accounts from either side.

— Reuters

Sergey Sokolov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper that has been banned in Russia, was detained in Moscow, the paper said.

He is being accused of “discrediting” the Russian army in an article for the paper, it said, however it is unclear which article exactly.

Novaya Gazeta was blocked in Russia in 2022 and lost its media license in 2023. Most of its journalists have been reporting from outside of Russia since shortly after the war began.

Previous Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, stepped down last year after being deemed a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities. This label is commonly given to Kremlin critics and imposes rules and restrictions on them.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Over 500 people have been suspected of war crimes since Russia’s war with Ukraine began, and 81 have been convicted, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said Thursday during a war crimes conference in Kyiv, Reuters reported.

On the sidelines of the conference, a two-year extension of a joint investigation team, which brings together chief prosecutors from various European countries, Europol and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, was announced by EU justice arm Eurojust.

The group focuses on alleged international crimes in Ukraine, including investigations and prosecutions. The investigations have led to Lithuania announcing suspicions of a war crime against a civilian citizen, who was allegedly tortured and killed while in Ukraine in 2022, Kostin said on social media platform X.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State of Nation address Thursday has covered a variety of topics so far, from Russia’s low birth rate, to the risk of an arms race with the United States, to low incomes and improving relations with the Middle East and Latin America.

Putin proposed to increase child benefits and improve social services to support and encourage Russians to have large families, as well as efforts to increase low incomes and Russian life expectancy.

A man holds the Russian national flag in front of a Wagner group military vehicle with the sign read as “Rostov” in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. 

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

He also spoke of Russia’s need to strengthen its western military district, signaling an intention to boost troop numbers along the border with new NATO member Finland. Putin said Russia’s armed forces had gained a wealth of military experience from fighting in Ukraine, stating “the combat capabilities of the armed forces have increased manifold.”

“Our units are firmly in possession of the initiative. They are confidently advancing in a number of operational directions, liberating new territories,” he told the audience, made up of lawmakers, officials, religious leaders and journalists.

— Holly Ellyatt

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