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“Don't give up. Have faith, hope and love”: Masha Moskaleva writes letter to father, fugitive political prisoner Alexei Moskalev

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Lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov published a letter that Masha Moskaleva, daughter of recently convicted political prisoner Alexei Moskalev, wrote to her father from the orphanage where she is currently being kept. According to the lawyer’s Facebook post, Alexei Moskalev managed to contact him and tell him that he had received a letter from his daughter, and asked Zakhvatov to release it to the public.

In the letter, Masha tells her father that is feeling “very bad” but believes they will see each together again:

“Hi Dad, I really ask you not to be sick and not to worry. I'm fine, I love you very much and know that you are not to blame for anything, I'm always going to support you and [believe that] everything you do is right.
I love you so much, thank you for everything you do for me. When you feel bad or worried, I get sick and I feel really bad. I believe that everything will be okay and you and I will be together [again]. I hope for the best and I love you very much.
Daddy, you know, as one woman wrote to me, you have to believe, hope and love, because only he who knows how to believe, hope and love, wins.
Just know that we will win, that the victory will be ours, we’re together whatever happens, we’re a team, you’re the best. You're my dad, the smartest, the most handsome, the best dad in the world. You know there's no one better than you.
Please, just don't give up. Have faith, hope and love.
One day we'll sit down at the table and we'll look back on it all. I love you, I hope – no, I know – that you won't give up, you're strong, we're strong, we can [do it], and I'll pray for you and for us, Dad.
I'm proud. Yes, Dad, I can say I'm proud of my father – a proud, smart, handsome, stubborn [man] who loves his daughter so much.
When we finally meet, I'll give you a nice big gift. Daddy, I don't want to write how my mood and health are, I don't want to upset you, but I realized that a bitter truth is better than a sweet lie. But never mind, we'll see each other and I'll tell you everything.
This sign [drawing of the peace sign] is the anti-war sign, and I’ll give you this pendant as the bravest man in the world!
I love you, you’re a hero.
My hero.”

On March 28, a court in Efremov in Russia’s Tula region found Alexei Moskalev guilty of “discrediting” the Russian army and sentenced the man to two years in a minimum security penal colony. Moskalev himself was not present at the announcement of the verdict. As the court secretary later reported, he escaped from house arrest at night. The man’s current whereabouts are unknown.

On the same day, Moskalev's attorney Vladimir Bilienko went to the orphanage where Masha Moskaleva, Alexei’s daughter, is being held. He was not allowed to see the girl, but was given her drawings and a letter. The father and daughter have not seen or spoken to each other since early March, when Alexei was placed under house arrest and Masha was taken to a “social rehabilitation center” in Efremov.

Russian law enforcement took an interest in the family in April 2022, when Masha, then in sixth grade, drew an anti-war poster during an art class, depicting the flag of Ukraine and the inscriptions “No to War” and “Glory to Ukraine.” The school administration then called the police.

  • Masha Moskaleva and her anti-war drawing
  • Close-up of Masha Moskaleva's anti-war drawing

Moskalev, a single father, was subsequently fined for “discrediting” the Russian army, with posts on social network Odnoklassniki being cited as the formal reason for the charge.

In December 2022, Russian authorities initiated a criminal case against Moskalev for repeatedly “discrediting” the country’s armed forces, with Odnoklassniki posts on the murders of civilians in Bucha and other crimes mentioned as evidence of Moskalev’s guilt. During the trial, Moskalev claimed that he had not published the posts, and that his page on the social network had been repeatedly hacked.

The Memorial human rights center has recognized Alexei Moskalev as a political prisoner.

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