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Russian father imprisoned after daughter made anti-war cartoon is on the run – POLITICO

A man sentenced to two years in prison in a case opened against him after his daughter drew an anti-war picture at school is on the run from authorities, a provincial court spokeswoman told reporters.

Earlier on Tuesday, a judge in the city of Yefremov in Russia’s Tula region south of Moscow found Alexei Moskalyov guilty of discrediting the Russian military on social media and sentenced him to two years in prison. a penal colony.

Moskalyov was not present at the hearing.

After the proceedings were completed, a court spokeswoman, responding to inquiries about Moskalyov’s whereabouts, said: “The defendant, Mr. Moskalyov, was not present when the verdict was delivered. because he fled house arrest last night.”

His words were met with applause and several shouts of “Bravo!” from some of those present.

Officially, Moskalyov was convicted for two comments he made on social media in which he described Russian soldiers as rapists and Russian leaders as “terrorists”.

But Moskalyov’s defense team and human rights activists have argued that his persecution was actually retribution for a drawing his daughter Masha made at school in April last year, when she was 12 years old.

In the drawing, a woman and child stand next to a flag reading “Glory to Ukraine” in the path of a rain of rockets coming from the direction of a Russian tricolor labeled: ” No to war”.

According to an interview Moskalyov gave to independent media before his arrest, Masha’s teacher informed the school principal, who then implicated the police, triggering a series of interrogations which he said involved threats and beatings.

Moskalyov was eventually arrested in early March and his daughter, now 13, was taken into state care. While Moskalyov was quickly released from house arrest, Masha remains in what authorities call “a social rehabilitation center” and has been denied communication with the outside world.

Tuesday’s decision, while not a surprise, has been decried as yet another crackdown on those who oppose Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and described by some as a return to the Stalinist practice of targeting children of “enemies of the state”. A petition calling for Masha’s release has received over 140,000 signatures.

Speaking to reporters outside court on Tuesday, Moskalyov’s lawyer, Vladimir Biliyenko, said he was unaware of his client’s plan to abscond. He said the last time they saw each other was at a court hearing the day before.

In a separate development, Moskalyov supporters attempted on Tuesday to visit Masha at the so-called social rehabilitation institution where she is believed to be held, only to be told she was not there.

According to comments by the center’s director cited by independent Russian media, Masha was attending a “culinary tournament” out of town, fueling speculation about her real whereabouts.

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