A gaunt and drained Navalny appears in court

Gaunt and frail, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny again denounced Russia's justice system when he appeared in court on Thursday (April 29) via videolink.

His team says he also faces new criminal charges and that the group has decided to disbanding a network of regional campaign offices.

It was Navalny's first appearance since declaring an end to his three-week hunger strike last week, and remains defiant.

The 44 year-old rejected accusations in the separate case of defaming a World War Two veteran.

"This whole case is a forgery, even signatures were forged. You, Your Honor, know it very well, and therefore did not grant the petition to verify the signatures. Because they were forged. It is probably a new standard of Russian justice."

One of his lawyers said he weighs a mere 72 kilograms, or 158 pounds - down from 94 kilograms when he flew back to Russia in January.

Navalny's team also said on Thursday it was officially disbanding its network of regional campaign offices across Russia.

The announcement, posted on YouTube by Leonid Volkov, comes ahead of another court hearing which will consider a request from prosecutors to declare the main pillars of Navalny's political organization as extremist.

"To put it short - Navalny's regional campaign offices do not exist anymore. And for me, more than for many, it is not just a notion. (CONTINUES IN CLOSER SHOT) It is a painful blow to my very heart."

A Russian court has scheduled the main hearing for that case on May 17.

Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half year jail sentence for parole violations on an earlier conviction that he says was politically motivated.