Navalny’s Funeral Is Planned for Friday, if Authorities Don’t Block It

Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, will be buried on Friday after a funeral service in Moscow that will be open to the public, his family and aides said on Wednesday, while warning that the authorities could try to prevent people from attending or force the service to be called off.

The planned funeral, at a church on Moscow’s outskirts, sets up the possibility of a rare display of opposition sentiment in the Russian capital — and of a new crackdown on Mr. Navalny’s supporters. Although the opposition leader’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, advised anyone planning to attend to “come early,” his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, later cautioned that mourners might be detained.

“I’m not sure yet whether it will be peaceful or whether the police will arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband,” Ms. Navalnaya said in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Two hours after Ms. Yarmysh announced plans for the funeral, another top aide to Mr. Navalny, Ivan Zhdanov, posted on the Telegram social messaging app that “Putin is releasing all his dogs to prevent the funeral from taking place normally.”

Mr. Zhdanov said in an interview posted to the Navalny team’s social media accounts that the Russian authorities were continuing to pressure Mr. Navalny’s family to hold only a “quiet, family funeral.” Otherwise, he said, the Kremlin was threatening to “disrupt it all.”

If the funeral does go ahead, mourners will be taking a risk by attending. Hundreds of people who turned out across Russia at spontaneous memorials for Mr. Navalny after his death were detained, according to OVD-Info, a Russian-based rights group that tracks arrests.

Ever since the Russian authorities reported Mr. Navalny’s death, on Feb. 16, his associates have said that the Kremlin has tried to prevent a funeral for him in Moscow that could draw thousands of mourners and become a flashpoint for dissent.

At one point, his team says, the authorities in the Arctic region where Mr. Navalny died in a penal colony threatened to bury him on the prison grounds if his mother did not agree to a private funeral. The Kremlin has denied being involved in any such discussions.

Mr. Navalny’s associates say that after relenting in last week’s dispute over the custody of his body, the Kremlin has succeeded in preventing the holding of a public wake for him.

Mr. Zhdanov also said that the Navalny team had been unable to hold the funeral on Thursday, as originally planned, because the date coincided with President Vladimir V. Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech.

“In the Kremlin, they understand that no one will care about Putin and his speech on the day of the farewell to Aleksei,” Mr. Zhdanov wrote on social media.

Ms. Yarmysh said the funeral would be held at 2 p.m. at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows, a Russian Orthodox church at least a half-hour subway ride from central Moscow.

Mr. Navalny lived in Maryino, the neighborhood where the church is situated, until 2017, according to Russian news reports. He will be buried in the nearby Borisovskoye Cemetery, Ms. Yarmysh said.