A Russian man whose teenage daughter drew an anti-war picture at school has been sentenced to two years in prison by a court for his own online posts critical of the invasion of Ukraine.
Alexey Moskalyov had been charged with “discrediting the Russian military” and was under house arrest in the Tula region after being accused of repeatedly publishing anti-war posts.
According to the indictment, Moskalyov, “using his personal computer, posted on his page in social networks statements in the form of text-graphic publications discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” reported Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
One of Moskalyov’s posts read: “Army of Russia. The oppressors around us,” according to the court, as quoted by Russian independent news site Mediazona.
In April last year, Moskalyov’s 13-year-old daughter Masha drew a picture of Russian missiles being fired at a Ukrainian family and wrote “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine” during her art class, according to Mediazona.
The school subsequently called the police.
On December 30, Moskalyov’s house was searched in connection with repeated “discrediting” of the Russian army based on his comments on social media.
Prosecutors had requested two years in prison for Moskalyov, according to RIA Novosti. Moskalyov pleaded not guilty but failed to turn up to his hearing in the city of Yefremov on Tuesday.
After Moskalyov was placed under house arrest at the beginning of this month, Masha – who he was raising alone – was placed in an orphanage. RIA Novosti said the whereabouts of Masha’s mother were unknown.
In a video published by the independent Russian Telegram channel SOTA, lawyer Vladimir Bilienko displayed some of Masha’s drawings for her father.
“[There was] a letter for Dad. There is a big heart at the end [and an inscription] ‘Dad, you are my hero,’” Bilienko said.
According to the chairman of the commission for minors in Yefremov, Svetlana Davydova, the family had been “on a preventive list of families in a socially dangerous situation” since May last year.
Alexander Brod, a member of the Human Rights Council, said Moskalyov did not fulfil his obligations as a father, according to RIA Novosti, adding that Masha had not attended school for a year.
Court spokeswoman Olga Dyachuk said that Moskalyov was given two years in a penal colony, reported RIA Novosti.
“Moskalyov was supposed to be taken into custody in the courtroom, but that didn’t happen, because he escaped from house arrest at night, the court announced the decision in his absence,” said Dyachuk.
The court acknowledged that Moskalyov had a daughter under the age of 18 as mitigation, but the prosecutor argued that the offense was committed during the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Russian human rights group Memorial said that “the criminal prosecution of Moskalyov is motivated by his political views and is aimed at the involuntary termination of civil activity of critics of the authorities and intimidation of the society as a whole.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Masha’s age. She is 13.