Allies of anti-Putin campaigner Alexei Navalny say the Kremlin is trying to derail his burial

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Plans to hold a funeral for Alexei Navalny on Thursday have been thwarted because it would clash with an address by President Vladimir Putin, according to the former opposition activist’s foundation.

Ivan Zhdanov,  the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday that the team had struggled to find a venue for the funeral and were blocked from hiring a hall so people could pay their respects to the popular anti-corruption campaigner. Navalny’s team encouraged people to do so anyway, despite not having a central venue.

Russia, which has become increasingly repressive under Putin’s rule, suppressing free speech and political opposition, is already facing an upsurge of support for Navalny since his death in an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16, at aged 47. 

Hundreds were arrested in the days after his death as people with flowers and candles streamed to ad-hoc memorials, as well as monuments to other victims of political repression, rights groups said. And campaigners say the Russian government is eager to limit further dissent in his name.