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Navalny’s widow accuses Putin of ‘satanism’ and breaking ‘both human and God’s’ law

By Darya Tarasova and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

(CNN) — The widow of the late dissident Alexey Navalny said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaging in “satanism” by refusing to release her husband’s body.

“No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with a body of Alexey,” Yulia Navalnaya said in video posted to social media. “It’s satanism.”

The video, titled “Putin’s fake faith,” was published nine days after Navalny’s death. Orthodox Christian death rites require that the deceased be buried three days after death and mourned for at a funeral service after nine days.

Navalny’s family and allies have accused Putin of having the 47-year-old killed and then holding his body to both hide his cause of death and out of fear that his funeral would draw large crowds.

“Murder wasn’t enough for Putin. Now his body is being held hostage,” Navalnaya said. “You mock the remains of the dead. Nothing more demonic can be imagined. You are breaking every law, both human and God’s.”

The Kremlin denied having anything to do with Navalny’s death.

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent political opponent, died on February 16 behind bars in a penal colony above the Arctic circle. The Russian prison service said he “felt unwell after a walk” and “almost immediately” lost consciousness.

He had been sentenced to 19 years in prison in August after being found guilty of creating an extremist community and other crimes, adding to the 11-and-a-half years to which he had previously been sentenced. Navalny had dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated.

His death came just weeks before Russia’s presidential election scheduled for March 17, at which Putin is expected to sweep to a fifth term in office, extending his rule until at least 2030.

With Navalny’s wife and team exiled from Russia, the duty of collecting his body and planning a funeral has fallen to his mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya. The elder Navalnaya has been in Salekhard, the Siberian town where Navalny’s body is being kept in a morgue, shortly after her son’s death.

On Tuesday Navalny’s team released a video in which Navalnaya was filmed outside the prison colony where Navalny was held pleading with Putin to release the body. She said later that was allowed to see her son, but that investigators had threatened to let her son’s body “decompose” unless she agreed to their demand that he be buried in secret.

Navalny’s spokeswoman said on Friday that Navalnaya was given an ultimatum to agree to a secret funeral or see her son buried in the Arctic penal colony where he died.

In her video published Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya held Putin responsible for the Russian state’s decision to hold Navalny’s body and said his actions cut against his carefully crafted image as a devout Orthodox Christian protecting both the faith and the state from the infiltration of Western values.

Putin, who has built a powerful symbolic and political alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church, has long attacked Western liberalism and accused the West of “pure satanism” in a September 2022 speech.

“Putin pretends to be a VERY religious man. He kisses icons and touches the relics of Saint Nicholas,” Navalnaya said. “Faith is not about kissing an icon. Faith is about goodness, about mercy, about salvation.”

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