Crime & Justice

Navalny appears in court for 1st time since ending hunger strike

Moscow, Apr 29 (EFE).- Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in a courtroom via video link on Thursday, his first appearance since he ended a 24-day hunger strike this week on the advice of doctors who feared for his life.

Navalny was attending an appeal hearing over a February conviction for defaming a World War II veteran. The Moscow court rejected the appeal and imposed a fine of 850,000 rubles (nearly $11,500) on the critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“I have lost weight. I weigh 72 kilograms. I weighed this much in seventh grade,” the 44-year-old who went on a hunger strike for more than three weeks to demand proper medical care told the court.

He added he is eating a few spoons of porridge every day and will start eating vegetables, as recommended by doctors.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s regional political network has officially suspended operations, according to his top strategist, Leonid Volkov.

“Continuing with the work of Navalny’s network of offices in its current form is impossible: it would immediately be banned for extremism and lead to jail sentences for those who work in the offices and collaborate with them,” Volkov said in a video posted to social media, adding that it was no longer possible to operate under such conditions.

This decision to close the offices comes after a court in Moscow ordered the suspension of Navalny’s organizations while it considers whether to label them as extremist groups and permanently ban them.

Navalny’s health deteriorated while serving a sentence of 3.5 years in prison for fraud and money laundering offenses, although he will serve only 2.5 years as he spent 10 months under house arrest.

The imprisonment of the opposition leader, who almost died after he was poisoned during a flight to Serbia in August, sparked massive protests across the country in late January, during which thousands of people were detained.

Navalny accuses Putin of having ordered the FSB domestic intelligence service to assassinate him.

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