Navalny looks thin and drained after hunger strike

In his first appearance since declaring an end to the three-week hunger strike last week, Navalny, his head shaven, remained defiant, though a blurry video link from jail during a legal hearing in a separate case showed he had lost weight.

Rejecting accusations in the separate case of defaming a World War Two veteran, Navalny said: "I demand that people who signed signatures (against him), (and) the prosecutors be brought to criminal justice."

But after weeks of mounting pressure, his allies announced they were disbanding his network of campaign offices across Russia as a court considers whether to declare them and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) "extremist."

If the network is declared extremist, authorities will gain the legal power to hand down jail terms to activists and freeze bank accounts. The court said on Thursday it would hold its next hearing in the case on May 17.