April 29 (UPI) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared gaunt in his first public appearance in court on Thursday since he ended a three-week hunger strike that put him in the hospital.
Appearing with head shaved via video link from prison to Moscow’s Babushkinsky Court, Navalny appealed a libel conviction involving a Russian World War II veteran. During the hearing, Navalny accused the court of being politically motivated. The court upheld the conviction.
Navalny criticized President Vladimir Putin and the struggling Russian economy when he got a chance to speak.
“I want to say, my dear judge, that your king is naked, and it’s not just one boy yelling about it. Millions of people are yelling about it,” Navalny said, according to The Guardian.
“Twenty years of his fruitless rule have led to this result: a crown falling from his ears, lies on television, we’ve wasted trillions of rubles, and our country continues to slide into poverty.”
Navalny told his wife Yulia at the hearing that he’s permitted to eat 450 calories in prison as officials slowly return him to a normal diet after the lengthy hunger strike.
Also Thursday, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it’s opened a new criminal case against Navalny and two associates over a nongovernmental organization that supposedly endangers citizens and their rights. It carries a fine and up to three years in prison.
Navalny team members Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov are the associates named in the case, which targets their Anti-Corruption Foundation. The Kremlin has been trying to label the group an extremist organization.