A court in Efremov in Russia’s Tula region has sentenced Alexei Moskalev, a single father prosecuted after his daughter drew an anti-war drawing in school, to two years in prison. The man was found guilty of “discrediting” the Russian army, but escaped from house arrest and is now on the run, according to a report from Mediazona citing representatives of the court.
“The verdict was announced today, but the defendant was not present as he escaped tonight,” said court spokeswoman Olga Dyachuk. After reading the verdict, judge Anton Malikov announced that Moskalev’s daughter Masha was placed in the care of social services.
The court reviewed Moskalev's case over a one-day period, with a state prosecutor originally requesting that the man serve two years in a minimum security penal colony.
According to a report from independent outlet Sota, on the day of sentencing, attorney Vladimir Bilienko managed to talk to the staff of the shelter where Masha Moskaleva was being kept, and collect drawings and a letter that the girl had prepared for her father. The lawyer was not allowed to see Masha in person. The “Memorial” human rights center has recognized Aleksei Moskalev as a political prisoner.
As Moskalev explained, law enforcement took an interest in his family in April 2022, when his daughter Masha, a sixth-grade school student, drew a picture in class with the flag of Ukraine and the inscriptions “No to War” and “Glory to Ukraine.” The art teacher reported the child to the principal, and the police came to the school on the same day.
Masha Moskaleva's anti-war drawing
The 53-year-old Moskalev, a single father, was soon formally accused of “discrediting” the Russian army, with a protocol drawn up by the police, and a comment on the Odnoklassniki social network cited as the formal reason for the charge. The Efremov resident was then fined 32 thousand roubles (close to $420). In late December, Moskalev's home was searched, with Alexei questioned by the FSB. The man claimed he had been beaten during the interrogation. A criminal case was then launched for the repeated “discrediting” of the Russian army. The case included Odnoklassniki posts on the murders of civilians in Bucha and other crimes. During the trial, Moskalev claimed that he had not published the posts, and that his page on the social network had been repeatedly hacked.
On March 2, Moskalev was placed under house arrest and his daughter Masha was taken to a shelter. Since then, no one was allowed to see the girl and she was not allowed to communicate with the outside world. Russia’s Commission on Juvenile Affairs has appealed to deprive the father of his parental rights.