Russian flees before jailing in case sparked by Ukraine drawing

2 months ago 39

MOSCOW - A single father, who was separated from his daughter and sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison over “discrediting” the Russian army, has fled house arrest, officials said.

Alexei Moskalyov, 54, first came to the authorities’ attention last year after his daughter Maria drew a picture at school showing missiles next to a Russian flag heading towards a woman and child standing by a Ukrainian flag.

A criminal case was later opened against him for allegedly criticising Russia’s assault on Ukraine and on Tuesday he was handed a two-year jail sentence over comments on social media.

But in a dramatic turn of events, court officials said Moskalyov had fled house arrest.

Moskalyov has been separated from his 13-year-old daughter as punishment for his criticism of Kremlin policies, a first in Russia, experts say.

“The verdict was read out in the absence of the defendant, because he disappeared and did not appear at the hearing,” Ms Elena Mikhailovskaya, a spokeswoman for the Yefremov district court south of Moscow, told AFP.

Moskalyov’s lawyer, Mr Vladimir Biliyenko, said he was in a “state of shock”.

“His disappearance is a total surprise for me. This has happened for the first time in my career,” he told AFP.

He said that Moskalyov’s daughter Maria could be sent to an orphanage “within a month”.

School drawing

Russia’s top human rights organisation Memorial, which has been shuttered by Russian authorities, said on Facebook it considered Moskalyov a “political prisoner”.

It added that separation from his daughter was a “repressive act and an attempt to intimidate all opponents of the war not only with prison terms but also the destruction of their families and pressure on children”.

The Moskalyovs’ case has garnered national attention and led to an online petition calling for the girl to b...

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