Navalny spokesperson says his body was handed to his mother

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was turned over to his mother by the Russian government, his spokeswoman announced via social media on Saturday.

Navalny spokesperson says his body was handed to his mother

The spokesperson for deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says his body has been turned over to the custody of his mother.

Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh announced that Navalny's body has been turned over by the Russian government after days of pleading from Lyudmila Navalnaya, the late activist's mother. 

"Alexey's body was handed over to his mother," Yarmysh announced via social media on Saturday. "Many thanks to all those who demanded this with us. Lyudmila Ivanovna is still in Salekhard."

"The funeral is still pending. We do not know if the authorities will interfere to carry it out as the family wants and as Alexey deserves," Yarmysh continued. "We will inform you as soon as there is news."

The transfer of Navalny's body follows a long string of accusations from his loved ones that the Russian government has tried to intimidate and blackmail them into agreeing to a "private funeral" out of the public eye.

Navalnaya made her initial plea for her son's body while speaking outside a penal colony in Kharp in northern Russia, where prison officials say Navalny died last Friday after collapsing following a walk. The prominent Putin critic was serving a sentence there on charges he has argued were politically motivated. 

"I am addressing you, Vladimir Putin. The solution to the issue depends only on you. Let me finally see my son," she added. "I demand that Alexei’s body be immediately handed over so that I can bury him humanely." 

Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya added later on social media, "Give back Alexei’s body and let him be buried with dignity, don’t stop people from saying goodbye to him."

She alleged in another video on Monday that her husband was poisoned and Russian that officials were holding onto his body until all traces of the nerve agent disappeared. 

Navalny’s body reportedly was found with "signs of bruising," while government officials told his mother last week that Navalny died of "sudden death syndrome," according to Reuters. 

World leaders including President Biden are blaming Putin after Russia announced Navalny’s death at a penal colony in Siberia on Friday, but the Kremlin is now calling those statements "obnoxious," the news agency adds.