A Russian single father, Alexei Moskalyov, who was convicted of criticizing Kremlin policies and was about to be sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday Mar. 28, escaped house arrest in Russia. It was reported, on Thursday, Mar. 30, that he has now been detained in Belarus.
Dmitriy Zahvatov, a lawyer who was in touch with Moskalyov after the escape, first reported his detention on a Russian Telegram channel, adding that he couldn't confirm the information, but "apparently, it's true.”
So far neither Russian nor Belarusian law enforcement agencies or media have commented on the report.
Moskalyov first came to the attention of Russian authorities last year when his 13-year-old daughter, Maria Moskalyova, was reported for drawing a picture at school, that showed Russian missiles heading toward a woman and child standing by a Ukrainian flag.
As a result, Russian authorities checked her father's social media, where it was found that Alexei had been actively criticizing the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine, and he was accused of "discrediting the Russian army," a criminal offence in Russia. He was put on trial at the Yefremov district court, south of Moscow, was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison..
"The verdict was read out in the absence of the defendant because he disappeared and did not appear at the hearing," Elena Mikhailovskaya, a spokeswoman for the Yefremov district court, is reported as saying by AFP.
Moskalyov's lawyer Vladimir Biliyenko said he was in a "state of shock".
Speaking to AFP, he said "His disappearance is a total surprise to me. This has happened for the first time in my career," adding that Moskalyov's daughter Maria could be sent to an orphanage "within a month."
This case has drawn national attention and led to an online petition calling for the 13-year-old Maria to be reunited with her father. Russia's top human rights organization, Memorial, said it considered Moskalyov a "political prisoner."
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