Steve Rosenberg: The lessons Russia can learn from Navalny’s burial

We observe things and write about them. However, in the era of round-the-clock news, journalists frequently have very little time to stop, catch their breath, and comprehend the scope of what has transpired. Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, I was constantly filing stories for BBC News, TV, and radio. I couldn’t pause and attempt to calculate the magnitude of the situation until two in the morning of the next day, following my final TV live of the day. With Alexei Navalny, everything have been the same. I have been covering the demise of Russia’s most well-known opposition figure in an Arctic prison colony for the past two weeks.

 

I spoke with Muscovites laying flowers in his honor and discussed the difficulties his family had faced trying to retrieve his body. I witnessed the casket of Navalny being taken into a Moscow church on Friday. Thousands of Russians were lining up to offer their last respects, as I witnessed. I watched as his followers threw flowers and roses at the hearse as it drove away to the graveyard. But Navalny’s death didn’t really sink in for me until after I watched the dramatic pictures of his coffin being lowered into the ground.

 

Today, Russians, including Ludmila, Navalny’s mother, visited Borisov cemetery and placed flowers on his tomb, carrying on the tributes. I’ve been reflecting on the incredible scenes I saw yesterday and what, if anything, they reveal about Russia in the present. It was uncertain how many Russians would turn out to bid farewell to the Kremlin’s most ardent critic, given the current wave of repression against dissenting voices.

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