Late Russian opposition leader, ALEXEI NAVALNY's lawyer is arrested in Moscow days after helping Putin critic's mother recover her 'murdered' son's body

Thursday, February 29, 2024
 – A lawyer who represented the late opposition politician Alexei Navalny and accompanied his mother last week as she appealed to authorities for the return of his body has been arrested in Moscow, Russian news media said.

Vasily Dubkov's arrest on charges of 'violating public order' was first reported by independent Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe.

Dubkov has since been let go, telling independent news outlet Verstka that he did not want to specifically comment on why he was detained, but said it was an obstruction of his activity as a lawyer.

He was a key player in efforts to get Alexei Navalny's corpse back from Russian authorities, after he died on February 16 in the IK-3 penal colony in Siberia after he fell ill when he went on a walk.

Russian authorities refused to release his body to allow his grieving mother, Lyudmila, to bury him unless she agreed to lay him to rest in a private ceremony.

Dubkov was pictured accompanying Lyudmila to several meetings with Russia's Investigative Committee in the days after the  Navalny's death.

Lyudmila said she told Russian authorities that they had a duty to return her son's body as it was already beginning to decompose.

'Time is not on your side, corpses decompose', she warned investigators.

Navalny is now expected to be buried in a plot in the Borisov cemetery in the southeast of Moscow, just next to the Moskva River, this week.

Armed guards were today seen standing outside the cemetery, seemingly in preparation for the expect outpouring of sympathy for the family of the dead dissident.

Allies said on Monday that Navalny was due to be freed in a prisoner swap, but was killed a day before he was due to be released.

Maria Pevchikh, a longtime confidant, said in a YouTube video: 'Navalny should have been out in the next few days because we got a decision about his exchange.

'In early February, Putin was offered to exchange the killer, FSB officer Vadim Krasikov, who’s serving time for a murder in Berlin, for two American citizens and Alexey Navalny.'

A spokesperson for the German government said on Monday that while it was aware of the reports of the reported swap, Germany could not comment on them.

Pevchikh also claimed former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich acted as an 'informal negotiator' who worked with American and European officials.

'At the same time, [he represented] Putin [as]an unofficial channel of communication with the Kremlin.'

Other allies have claimed that they have been unable to find a venue in Russia where people could pay their respects to Navalny.

Kira Yarmysh said on Tuesday: 'Since yesterday we have been looking for a site where we can say farewell to Alexei. We called round most private and public funeral agencies, commercial sites and funeral halls.

'Some places say the space is busy, some places refuse upon mention of the name "Navalny". In one place we were directly told that funeral agencies were prohibited from working with us.'

Navalny was imprisoned since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. He received three prison terms since then, on charges he rejected as politically motivated.

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