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A maximum security funeral: as Moscow prepares to say its goodbyes to Navalny, riot police are gearing up for unrest

Moscow riot police have begun large-scale preparations for the crowd of supporters expected to attend Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s funeral in the capital on March 1. As The Insider's correspondent reports, fences and metal detectors are being installed near the church in Moscow’s Maryino district, where Navalny’s team has announced the memorial service for the murdered politician will take place.

The police have also installed an antenna next to the church, allowing law enforcement officers to communicate with each other even when the phone jammers are turned on.

The explanation was supplied by the engineer installing the equipment: “This is communication equipment, but it's not meant for you – it’s for the special services,” he told The Insider’s correspondent. When asked, “So will they be jamming the network?” the engineer responded: “That depends on you.” The van with the antenna is decorated with the phrase “Mobile Internet.” Law enforcement officers interviewed by the correspondent were visibly nervous and admitted that they have no idea how tomorrow will play out.

Riot fences abound; as the correspondent notes, “It’s as though they’d brought them from all over Moscow.” The fences are being stacked right on the church's grounds. They are also lining all of the streets adjacent to the nearest subway station. The apartment block where Navalny lived, some 200 meters from the church, has also been fenced off. The fences separate sidewalks from the road.

“A maximum security funeral”: The Insider's video report from the venue.

The policeman on duty at the church told the correspondent that there were no plans to close the subway station on March 1. However, municipal workers installing the fences said that the Maryino station would be closed from 10 a.m. onwards – presumably until 2 or 3 p.m. Police officers are approaching everyone who photographs the church and asking for their reasons for doing so.

According to the correspondent, there is already a small crowd near the church. People are speaking to each other, sharing their memories of Navalny and recalling how they voted for him in Moscow’s 2013 mayoral election. Most of them are elderly. Many are watching with disapproval as the fences are being installed.

“People are disgruntled, saying that it shouldn't be like this, that the way Navalny’s body and his family are treated is shameful. They are saying it’s not Christian. Passers-by stop, and some enter the church grounds. A few asked me what time the memorial service was,” the correspondent says.

At some point, The Insider's correspondent was approached by the police, who wanted to see his accreditation papers.

“I don't know what kind of accreditation you need for a funeral. So I had to distract them. We ended up talking about our college days.”

Navalny’s funeral service is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. on March 1 in the Church of the Mother of God Assuage My Sorrows Icon in Maryino, a neighborhood in southeastern Moscow. Navalny's team has asked visitors to arrive early. The funeral is set to take place at 4 p.m. at the nearby Borisovskoye Cemetery.

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