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Ani Kokobobo’s “Why the Kremlin Tried to Obstruct Alexei Navalny’s Funeral” for Time Magazine
February 29, 2024

Ani Kokobobo (Slavic Ph.D., ’11; Chair, Slavic, German and Eurasian Studies, University of Kansas) examines the Kremlin’s machinations to obstruct Alexei Navalny’s funeral in Time Magazine’s “Made by History” (Feb. 29, 2024).

Many, including Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya, have said they believe the Kremlin is responsible for Navalny’s death, and his death has demoralized the Russian opposition, which fears that this untimely loss renders prospects of political change even bleaker. Given the damage to the opposition cause, why would Putin — who has eliminated anyone who poses even the slightest political threat — be so concerned with a funeral?


The answer lies in the long history of Russian funerals serving as moments for expressing displeasure with authoritarian regimes. Individuals mourn the loss of the deceased, but they also lament their own lives in authoritarianism. And such a display memorializing Navalny could be destabilizing, showing that despite his tight grip on power, Putin is by no means beloved.