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Russian Children's Rights Commissioner says Masha Moskaleva to be placed in foster family

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Russian six-grader Masha Moskaleva, whose father has been sentenced to two years in jail for “discrediting the Russian army”, will be transferred from the orphanage to a foster family. As the Russian Agency for Legal and Judicial Information (RAPSI) reports, the Presidential Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova announced it at a briefing*.

“I’ve met with her blood relatives, but they have been reluctant to take Masha on, probably because of the overall high-profile situation and lack of earlier contact with the girl. But we are considering several applications from foster families,” shared Lvova-Belova, adding that Masha was already in contact with one of the families.

Despite her earlier promises to withdraw her daughter from the orphanage, the girl’s biological mother Olga Sitchikhina never showed up. According to the Commissioner, she’s never even visited Masha and is not in touch with her. Lvova-Belova has therefore announced plans to deprive both of Masha's parents of parental rights.

After her father Alexei Moskalev was sentenced to two years in a penal colony, Sitchikhina gave an interview, swearing that she wouldn't abandon her daughter and wouldn’t have her raised by strangers. However, municipal deputy Olga Podolskaya from Yefremov, a town in the Tula Region where the Moskalevs lived, later said that Sitchikhina had been offered to retrieve her daughter when the criminal proceedings against her father had begun but that the woman had refused and had signed Masha's orphanage application.

Single father Alexei Moskalev and his daughter drew the attention of security services after Masha drew an anti-war poster in an Arts class at school in April 2022. In March 2023, Moskalev, who’d been charged with “army discrediting” for anti-war posts on the Odnoklassniki social network, was placed under house arrest, and Masha was sent to an orphanage. On March 28, the court passed his sentence in absentia because Moskalev had escaped from house arrest the day before. Two days later, he was apprehended in Minsk.

*The International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued an arrest warrant against Lvova-Belova under the charges of unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children.

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