Kremlin Seeks to Suppress Navalny’s Influence, in Death as in Life

When Aleksei A. Navalny was alive, the Kremlin sought to portray him as an inconsequential figure unworthy of attention, even as the Russian authorities vilified and attacked him with a viciousness that suggested the opposite.

In death, little appears to have changed.

President Vladimir V. Putin has not said a word in public about Mr. Navalny in the two weeks since the opposition campaigner’s death at age 47 in an Arctic prison.

Russian state television has been almost equally silent. Coverage has been limited to a short statement by the prison authorities the day of Mr. Navalny’s death, plus a few fleeting television commentaries by state propagandists to deflect blame and tarnish his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who has announced that she will carry on her husband’s work.

And on Friday, as thousands gathered in the Russian capital for Mr. Navalny’s funeral, cheering his name, official Moscow acted as if the remembrance was a nonevent. State news ignored it altogether. When asked that morning if the Kremlin could comment on Mr. Navalny as a political figure, Mr. Putin’s spokesman responded, “It cannot.”

Referring to Mr. Navalny, Sam Greene, a professor of Russian politics at King’s College London, said, “Part of the approach from the Kremlin was to not give him any more oxygen than absolutely necessary, or if it was possible, to give him no oxygen at all.”

Mr. Putin for years refused to say Mr. Navalny’s name. State television almost never mentioned him. The authorities barred him from running for president in the 2018 election and largely thwarted him from engaging in the Western-style democratic retail politics he wanted to see in Russia.

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