Moscow – Russian opposition leader jailedappeared in court Thursday for the first time in months, and he looked worse for wear. Attending a hearing in a Moscow court via video link from a prison tens of kilometers from the capital, the fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin looked slim after a recent hunger strike. Last week, the 44-year-old politician ended his three-week hunger strike after finally being examined by non-prison doctors after weeks demanding independent medical treatment for a number of complaints. Thursday’s hearing focused on Navalny’s appeal against his February libel conviction for insulting a Russian World War II veteran.
“I’m just a horrible skeleton,” the shaven-headed Navalny said, appearing gaunt onscreen, outside the courtroom his wife Yulia was sitting in on Thursday. He said his weight had dropped to around 159 pounds, noting that he hadn’t been this light in around seventh grade.
Navalny said he asked the prison for carrots and apples to help him recover from his hunger strike, but did not receive any. The Kremlin critic was sentenced earlier this year to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a previous suspended sentence. He was arrested in January shortly after returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent five months recovering from severe poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
His arrest sparked a series of mass protests across the country earlier this year, and thousands took to the streets last week in support of the opposition leader. Russian authorities have denied, and the United States and its allies, that the government – even Putin himself – was behind the poisoning attack on the president’s main national opponent. “I would like to say, my dear court, that your king is naked. Already millions of people are shouting because it is so obvious,” Navalny said in his remarks to the court on Thursday, referring to Putin. The court dismissed his appeal against the libel conviction.
Navalny organization closed
Meanwhile, Navalny’s national anti-corruption political network has been dissolved before the court’s decision to declare it an “extremist” organization, politician Leonid Volkov’s main ally said on Thursday.
The ruling is expected to put all members and supporters of the organization at risk of up to six years in prison.
Earlier this week, another Russian court banned the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and its network of regional campaign offices from posting online. Organizations are also prohibited from accessing their bank accounts. Navalny’s ally, Vladimir Ashurkov, a former director of the foundation, who lives in exile outside Russia, told CBS News earlier this week that he believed the Kremlin was taking such dramatic action, “because at Over the years, Navalny and our organization have become Vladimir Putin’s most important adversaries. “Navalny’s team also revealed on Thursday that Russian authorities have apparently opened new criminal proceedings against Navalny and two of his main allies, this time around. for allegedly creating a non-profit organization which “violates the personality and rights of citizens”.
According to legal documents cited by associates of the opposition leader, the case was opened in February. The charges carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
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