Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s team announces on YouTube that it is disbanding its national network ahead of a court ruling expected to declare it an “extremist” organisation.

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 on April 29, 2021.
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 on April 29, 2021. (Reuters)

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny's team has said it is disbanding its network of regional campaign offices across Russia 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 organisation 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.

READ MORE: Jailed Russian opposition leader Navalny to end hunger strike

Prison sentence 

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.

Navalny's allies said on Thursday Russian authorities have opened a new criminal case against him for allegedly setting up a non-profit organisation that infringed on the rights of citizens. 

READ MORE: Navalny doctors denied access to jailed critic despite deteriorating health

Source: TRTWorld and agencies