Kremlin critic Navalny looks thin and drained after hunger strike
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, looking gaunt and drained after a hunger strike, denounced Russia’s justice system on Thursday as his team said he faced new criminal charges and that it was disbanding a network of regional campaign offices.
In his first appearance since declaring an end to the three-week hunger strike last week, Navalny, his head shaven, remained defiant, though a blurry video link from jail during a legal hearing in a separate case showed he had lost weight.
Rejecting accusations in the separate case of defaming a World War Two veteran, Navalny said: “I demand that people who signed signatures (against him), (and) the prosecutors be brought to criminal justice.”
But after weeks of mounting pressure, his allies announced they were disbanding his network of campaign offices across Russia as a court considers whether to declare them and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) “extremist”.
If the network is declared extremist, authorities will gain the legal power to hand down jail terms to activists and freeze bank accounts. The court said on Thursday it would hold its next hearing in the case on May 17.
“Maintaining the work of Navalny’s network of headquarters in its current form is impossible: it would immediately … lead to criminal sentences for those who work in the headquarters, who collaborate with them and for those who help them,” Leonid Volkov, one of Navalny’s close allies, said in a YouTube video.
He said many of the offices would try to function as entirely independent regional structures led by their own leaders.
The FBK has already been partially barred from accessing its bank accounts and from organising protests and publishing media articles.
Navalny’s allies also said a new criminal case had been opened against him for allegedly setting up a non-profit organisation that infringed on the rights of citizens…..read more