Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team said it was disbanding its network of regional campaign offices across Russia on Thursday as the opposition figure appeared in a video link from jail, looking gaunt after a hunger strike.
His allies made their announcement in a YouTube video before a court hearing which was due to consider a request from prosecutors to declare the main pillars of Navalny’s political organization as extremist.
A Moscow court barred Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his separately run network of regional campaign offices from posting online earlier this week.
The FBK was barred on Tuesday from accessing its bank accounts at the request of the prosecutor, and from organising protests and publishing media articles, while the court considers further action.
If the network is declared extremist, authorities will gain the legal power to hand down jail terms to activists and freeze bank accounts.
Navalny, 44, is serving a 2-1/2 year jail sentence for parole violations on an earlier conviction that he says was politically motivated.
In his first appearance since his hunger strike, which he has said he is gradually ending, a shaven-headed Navalny looked physically drained and to have lost weight, according to a reporter who saw him in a grainy video link during the legal hearing.
Navalny declared his hunger strike in prison on March 31 to demand proper medical care for leg and back pain. He said on April 23 that he would start gradually ending it after getting medical care, even as the political prospects for him and his movement darkened.
IMAGE: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on screens via video link before a hearing to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision that found him guilty of slandering a Russian World War Two veteran, in Moscow, Russia April 29, 2021. Press Service of Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow/Handout via REUTERS