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Russian man who was prosecuted after 13-year-old daughter’s anti-war drawing now appears to be on the run

Ukraine map on ground with numbers placed on it as if it were a crime sceneUkrainian map seen during street action ‘Who will punish the criminal?’ in Lviv, Ukraine.

Mykola Tys/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • Alexei Moskalev was sentenced Tuesday to two years behind bars for alleged antiwar social media posts.
  • Before he could be imprisoned, though, Moskalev fled house arrest and is now on the run.
  • Moskalev was prosecuted after school authorities found antiwar drawings by his 13-year-old daughter.

A single father appears to be on the run after authorities accused him of condemning Russian war crimes on social media and placing his only daughter in an orphanage.

Alexei Moskalev was sentenced Tuesday to two years in a penal colony for the alleged posts, which he has denied penning.

He was prosecuted, according to the BBC, after school authorities last year reported his 13-year-old daughter to police after seeing that she had drawn a Ukrainian flag with the words, “Glory to Ukraine,” and a Russian flag with the words, “No to war!” In the drawing, a mother and child can be seen holding hands and standing next to the Ukrainian flag as missiles approach them from the Russian side.

That incident appears to have sparked prosecutors’ interest in the father, who last year was fined for social media posts critical of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin insists be referred to as a “special military operation.” His apartment in Yefremov was then raided in December, leading to a criminal case over other alleged posts.

Moskalev’s daughter was taken from him earlier this month and placed in an orphanage, the Associated Press reported. “Daddy, you’re my hero,” she wrote to him during his trial, according to his lawyer, who said he does not know his current whereabouts.

“To say I’m surprised would be an understatement,” Moskalev’s attorney, Vladimir Biliyenko, told the BBC. “I’ve never seen anything like it. No client of mine has ever gone missing like this. I don’t know when he fled, or if he has.”

Supporters in the courtroom cheered when Moskalev was announced missing, Politico reported, with some yelling “Bravo!”

A court will decide next month whether to strip him of his parental rights.

Russia criminalizes dissent

Soon after launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities began cracking down on internal criticism, with lawmakers passing measures that impose up to 15 years in prison for protesting the war or accurately reporting on the conflict.

According to Human Rights Watch, people have since been prosecuted for merely displaying the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow. Last fall, an activist, Igor Maltsev, was sentenced to more than 3 1/2 years in prison for “political hatred,” HRW said, after he burned a wicker figure dressed in a Russian military uniform.

OVD-Info, a Russian human rights group, says that at least 505 people have been hit with criminal charges for expressing antiwar sentiment, including seven children.

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