- Navalny in a court appearance on Thursday ripped Putin as a “naked king” clinging to power.
- “Your naked king wants to rule until the end. He doesn’t care about the country,” Navalny said.
- The imprisoned Russian opposition leader’s defiant comments came after a weeks-long hunger strike.
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Alexei Navalny on Thursday decried Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “naked king” clinging to power, during what marked the Kremlin critic’s first public appearance since he went on a hunger strike in prison.
“I would like to say that your king is naked, and more than one little boy is shouting about it — it is now millions of people who are already shouting about it. It is quite obvious. Twenty years of incompetent rule have come to this: There is a crown sliding from his ears,” Navalny said of Putin, alluding to the recent anti-government protests across Russia linked to Navalny’s imprisonment, according to CNN.
“Your naked king wants to rule until the end. He doesn’t care about the country. He is clung to power and wants to rule indefinitely,” Navalny added.
Putin, who has ruled over Russia for 20 years, in early April signed a law that paved the way for him to stay in power until 2036. Critics say the Russian leader has effectively made himself president for life.
Navalny, who’s Putin’s most prominent critic, made these comments while joining a Moscow court hearing via video link. A judge rejected Navalny’s appeal of a conviction over accusations he defamed a World War II veteran — a verdict broadly seen as politically motivated.
As he criticized Putin, the anti-corruption campaigner also excoriated the prosecutors and judge.
“You are all traitors. You and the naked king are implementing a plan to seize Russia, and the Russians should be turned into slaves,” Navalny said. “Their wealth will be taken away from them. They will be deprived of any prospects. You have implemented that plan.”
Navalny’s remarks came as his political network was disbanded. The move was in response to an expected court ruling that would designate it as an “extremist” organization, The Moscow Times reported.
The Russian opposition leader looked gaunt in images of his court appearance, likely a product of his weeks-long hunger strike in prison. Navalny ended the strike, which was over demands for proper medical care in prison, last week as doctors warned that he could die from it.
“I’m just an awful skeleton,” Navalny said on Thursday, referring to his appearance and the weight he’s lost.
Navalny in February was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his parole over a separate case. Navalny has dismissed all charges against him as politically motivated.
The sentencing came just months after Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok while in Siberia, which nearly killed him. Navalny was transferred to Germany for medical treatment in September and remained there until January. It was during this treatment and recovery period that Navalny missed parole meetings, and he was promptly arrested in January upon returning to Moscow.
Putin is widely believed to have ordered Navalny’s poisoning. Leaders across the world have condemned the Russian president over the incident and Navalny’s subsequent imprisonment. President Joe Biden in early March slapped new sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s poisoning.