Moscow court rejects the 44-year-old politician’s appeal against his fine for supposedly slandering a 94-year-old Second World War veteran
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has appeared for the first time in public for since he went on a hunger strike, via a video link during his first court hearing.
The 44-year-old told the court that he looks like a “creepy skeleton” and had described the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as a “naked king” as he has appealed against his fine for the supposed slander of a 94-year-old veteran of the Second World War.
The court in the city of Moscow rejected the Russian opposition leader’s appeal and has since upheld his conviction.
This comes after police rounded up over 1,700 protesters on Wednesday as Russians across the country took part in rallies organised by allies of hunger-striking Alexei Navalny.
He is accused of calling the World War Two veteran and other people featured in a pro-Kremlin video last year “corrupt stooges”, “people without conscience” and “traitors”.
Alexei Navalny, who had rejected the charges against him, denounced the Russian justice system during the proceedings as his team said that he faced brand new criminal charges and that it was disbanding a network of its regional campaign offices.
“My dear court, your king is naked,” he said to the court from his cell. “And millions of people are shouting about it because it is quite obvious.”
Criticising Mr Putin, he said: “Twenty years of mediocre reign resulted in the crown hanging from his ears. We have spent trillions of dollars, and our country continues to degrade. Unsurprisingly, all economists of Russian origin say that recent years are lost decades.”
Addressing his wife, who was present at the court for Thursday’s proceedings, he said: “Yulia, if you can hear me, stand up for a second, I want to look at you.”
He also said that he misses her very much and since their last meeting had lost two kilograms and now weighs just 72kg.
“Yesterday I was taken to the bathhouse, there is a mirror. I looked – and I am a creepy skeleton. I weighed this much in seventh grade. If I had taken off my tunic, I would have looked much worse,” he added.
This comes after Russia has warned that it would retaliate against any sanctions imposed by the US over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, who was jailed on Tuesday for almost three years.
Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and known to be Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, began hunger striking on the 31st of March to protest against the prison authorities‘ refusal to allow his doctors visit after he had developed severe back pain, as well as numbness in his legs.
He said that on the 23rd of April that he would start gradually ending the strike after having received medical care, even as his political prospects and his movement has darkened.
On easing his hunger strike, he told the court: “Yesterday I ate four spoons of porridge, today five spoons.
“When I get to 10 spoons, it will be a breakthrough. To get 60 grams of raw carrots, I wrote a petition, they are still considering it.”