Alexei Navalny gives thumbs up as he appears in court on video link

Alexei Navalny gives the thumbs up as he appears in court on video link to sue prison for blocking his selection of books and newspapers

  • Alexei Navalny gave thumbs-up as he appeared in court on video on Wednesday 
  • He is suing a prison on what he says is illegal failure to give him books of choice 
  • Navalny, 44, is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony for fraud charges 
  • He earlier claimed he was ‘infuriated’ as the prison wouldn’t give him a Koran 
  • His prison, outside Moscow, claimed it is acting in accordance with Russian law

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was seen giving the thumbs up as he appeared in court on video link to sue a prison for failing to supply him with books of his choice.

Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, 44, appeared at the court hearing from prison via a video link on Wednesday, according to a Reuters reporter in the court.

Pictures show Navalny, Russian President Putin’s most well-known opponent, speaking and giving the thumbs-up on a screen situated in the courtroom.

He is suing the prison over what he alleges is its illegal failure to supply him with books of his choice, including Muslim holy book the Koran, and censorship of newspapers he reads.

Alexei Navalny, 44, gave the thumbs-up (pictured) as he appeared at a court hearing from prison via a video link on Wednesday, according to a Reuters reporter in the court

Pictures show Navalny (above), Russian President Putin’s most well-known opponent, speaking as he appeared on a screen situated in the courtroom

His prison has claimed that it is acting in accordance with Russian law.

Navalny is currently serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old embezzlement charges which he claims are politically motivated. 

Explaining his decision to take legal action against prison authorities in April, he claimed that ‘they won’t give me my Koran. And it’s infuriating’.

He wrote in an Instagram post: ‘When I was jailed, I made a list of ways I wanted to improve myself that I will try to complete in jail. One of the points was to deeply study and understand the Koran.’

‘Books are our everything, and if you have to sue for the right to read, I will sue,’ he said.

In the same social media post, Navalny said he had read the Koran before but had not internalised its core tenets.

‘I realised that my development as a Christian also requires studying the Koran,’ he wrote. 

Earlier this week, Navalny also said he has successfully eased out of his hunger strike and has discovered the recipe for being ‘happy’ in prison. 

The jailed Kremlin critic (pictured during hearing) is suing the prison over what he alleges is its illegal failure to supply him with books of his choice and censorship of newspapers he reads

Navalny (pictured in February) is currently serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old embezzlement charges he says are politically motivated

Navalny went on hunger strike at the end of March demanding proper treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his limbs.

He ended the protest on April 23 after he received treatment at a civilian hospital and the West warned Putin of consequences if his critic died.

Posting on Instagram the first time in nearly three weeks, Navalny said: ‘Twenty three days on a hunger strike and 23 days easing out of it in a very strict, conservative manner. My willpower surprised me.’

Last Sunday, he ate bread – his favourite food – for the first time in 46 days and was happier than an oligarch dining aboard his yacht or a guest of ‘a Michelin-starred restaurant’.

The recipe for being happy in prison, he concluded, was simple.

‘Choose what you like very much, then rid yourself of it for some time and then get it back,’ Navalny wrote.

‘Just remember that this does not apply to people. Love your favourite people always.’

Navalny’s last public appearance was by video link in court during an appeal hearing at the end of April, where he appeared gaunt and said he had started eating a couple spoonfuls of porridge a day.

Earlier in the day, a top aide and the head of Russia’s prison service Alexander Kalashnikov also said Navalny’s health improved.

Navalny has ‘recovered, more or less’, Kalashnikov told journalists.

‘His weight is already up to 82 kilograms (180lbs), I think,’ he added.

The prison’s chief, who has been sanctioned both by the US and the EU over the treatment of Navalny, said the Kremlin critic was ‘eating normally’.

The director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Ivan Zhdanov, also said his health was improving. 

Navalny (pictured Wednesday) has successfully eased out of his hunger strike, which he began at the end of March to demand proper treatment for back pain and numbness in his limbs

Navalny (pictured in February 2020 with wife Yulia, politician Lyubov Sobol and protestors) returned to Russia in January from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning attack

‘His condition is now more or less normal. The recovery process is indeed underway,’ Zhdanov said on the Echo of Moscow radio.

Navalny’s allies said that he weighed 205 lbs (93 kg) when he arrived in prison in February, but that his went had gone down to 187 lbs (85 kg) by the time he launched his hunger strike.

The update on Navalny’s health comes as Russia moves to outlaw his movement.

In a post on his Instagram account on Tuesday, Navalny said he had been informed about three new criminal investigations against him. 

Next month, a court will convene to hear whether to add his network of regional offices and the Anti-Corruption Foundation to a list of ‘terrorist and extremist’ organisations.

The ruling would effectively outlaw Navalny’s political network, putting his supporters and financial backers on par with members of the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

In another move targeting his supporters, Russia’s lower house of parliament this week approved legislation in a first reading that would ban members of ‘extremist’ organisations from becoming lawmakers.

Since Navalny returned to Russia in January from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack he blames on Putin, most of his top allies have been placed under house arrest or left the country.

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