A transformed Alexei Navalny appeared in court in Moscow on Thursday for the first time since launching a hunger strike. The "visibly gaunt" Russian opposition leader didn't have a great time as Judge Kurysheva Natalia upheld his Feb. 20 conviction for defaming a veteran who’d publicly supported constitutional changes that allowed President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036, per CNN. But Navalny did put on a show, comparing Putin to the "naked king" in Hans Christian Andersen's folktale The Emperor's New Clothes. The story tells of a vain emperor who is fooled into strutting naked among his subjects. "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 said. But "20 years of incompetent rule have come to this: there is a crown sliding from his ears."
Navalny, who appeared via video link from a hospital within a penal colony, referred to widespread protests in Russia, claiming "millions of people" have been made aware of Putin’s abuses of authority, per CBS News. But he accused "traitor" prosecutors of working with Putin "to seize Russia." He also called the judge a "traitor." Navalny also commented on a body changed by his hunger strike. "I'm just an awful skeleton,” he said, giving his weight as about 158 pounds. He said he hadn’t been this light since the seventh grade. His lawyer said he weighed roughly 207 pounds when he returned to Russia from Germany in January. Navalny, who began ending his hunger strike a week ago, said he'd eat five tablespoons of porridge on Thursday and six on Friday. He noted he'd received no response to a request for carrots and apples from the prison. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)