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Russia convicts father of youngster who drew antiwar footage

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TALLINN, Estonia — A Russian courtroom on Tuesday convicted a single father over social media posts vital of the struggle in Ukraine and sentenced him to 2 years in jail — a case introduced in opposition to him after his daughter’s drawings at college opposed the invasion, based on his lawyer and activists.

However Alexei Moskalyov fled home arrest earlier than his verdict was delivered in his Russian hometown of Yefremov and is at giant, courtroom officers mentioned. His 13-year-old daughter Maria, who has been taken from him by the authorities, wrote him a supportive letter for his trial from the orphanage the place she resides, based on his lawyer, telling him, “Daddy, you’re my hero.”

Moskalyov’s case has drawn worldwide consideration and was a grim reminder that the Kremlin is intensifying its crackdown on dissent, concentrating on extra folks and handing out harsher punishments for any expression of criticism of the struggle.

Moskalyov, 54, was accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian military, a legal offense in accordance to a regulation Russian authorities adopted shortly after sending troops into Ukraine.

He was indicted for a sequence of social media posts about Russian atrocities in Ukraine and referencing the “terrorist” regime in Moscow that he insists he didn’t make. However, based on his lawyer and activists who supported him all through the case and trial, his troubles began final spring after his 13-year-old daughter, Maria, drew an antiwar image at Yefremov College No. 9 that depicted missiles flying over a Russian flag at a girl and youngster and mentioned, “Glory to Ukraine.”

In April 2022, Moskalyov was fined for vital feedback on social media. His condo was raided in December and a legal case was opened in opposition to him this month. He was positioned beneath home arrest and his daughter was positioned into the orphanage.

On the trial, which concluded in at some point on Monday, three academics and the director of Maria’s faculty testified that they discovered Moskalyov’s “discrediting” social media posts at random and that Maria’s drawing had nothing to do with the case — contradicting the accounts of his lawyer and different supporters. Males in army uniforms and medals confirmed up on the courthouse Monday, apparently in assist of the authorities.

Moskalyov rejected the accusations and insisted he had nothing to do with the social media posts in query.

In a brief closing assertion, Moskalyov mentioned he was “in opposition to” what the Kremlin insists on calling a “particular army operation.”

“How can one really feel about dying, about people who find themselves dying? Adults are dying, youngsters. … Solely negatively — how else can one really feel a couple of struggle?” he was quoted as saying by Russia’s impartial information web site Mediazona.

Court docket officers mentioned Moskalyov fled home arrest in a single day from his condo in Yefremov, about 300 kilometers (about 186 miles) south of Moscow and the same distance north of the Ukrainian border. He had been carrying a bracelet that tracked his actions however apparently had taken it off.

When an official introduced in courtroom Tuesday that Moskalyov had fled, some in attendance shouted, “Bravo!”

Moskalyov’s lawyer Vladimir Biliyenko mentioned he realized of his consumer’s disappearance on the listening to. Moskalyov was scheduled to seem in courtroom once more subsequent week on a petition to limit his parental rights.

Biliyenko advised The Related Press the authorities’ petition to limit Moskalyov’s parental rights was primarily based nearly solely on his political opinions and his prosecution for discrediting the military, which they mentioned posed a menace to his daughter.

The officers have additionally accused Moskalyov of being a negligent dad or mum as a result of Maria stopped attending faculty after her drawing was reported to the police and she or he was questioned. In line with Biliyenko and Moskalyov’s supporters, she was scared to return after that and studied at house.

The lawyer described the prosecution of Moskalyov as “bullying of the household.”

The lawyer visited Maria within the orphanage Tuesday and advised reporters that whereas he wasn’t capable of see her, native directors allowed him to {photograph} a letter she wrote to her father, which ended with, “Daddy, you’re my hero.” Biliyenko additionally was given two drawings Maria made, depicting a canine and rabbits.

Olga Podolskaya, a member of Yefremov’s municipal council who has been serving to Moskalyov, advised AP that father and the daughter clearly love one another, and the choice to take Maria away was politically motivated. Maria’s mom left when the woman was 3 and has one other household in a special metropolis, Podolskaya advised AP by cellphone.

Podolskaya mentioned the information that Moskalyov escaped home arrest shocked her.

“We’re all actually frightened, together with Alexei’s lawyer,” she mentioned, including that the hope now was for different relations to hunt custody of Maria.

Biliyenko mentioned after the listening to that he tried calling Moskalyov after his go to to the orphanage, however he wasn’t answering his cellphone. “I assumed that he was being introduced right here (to the courthouse), as a result of they often arrive upfront,” he mentioned.

Russian human rights activists say the Kremlin has ramped up strain on those that disagree with the struggle. The OVD-Information rights group that tracks political instances and offers authorized support this month has registered a rise in jail sentences for folks prosecuted for his or her antiwar stance, mentioned Daria Korolenko, the group’s lawyer and analyst.

“Repressions are selecting up velocity,” Korolenko advised AP in a cellphone interview, including that the numbers are anticipated to proceed rising.

Additionally on Tuesday, a courtroom in St. Petersburg continued a listening to within the case in opposition to Irina Tsibaneva, 60, who’s charged with desecrating a grave. In October she left a word on the grave of President Vladimir Putin’s dad and mom that mentioned, amongst different issues: “You raised a monster and a killer.” She faces as much as 5 years in jail if convicted.

Earlier this month, a courtroom within the close by area of Tver sentenced a married couple to six 1/2 and seven years in jail on expenses of vandalism and spreading false details about the military. In line with OVD-Information, Alexander Martynov and Lyudmila Razumova have been charged after vital social media posts and antiwar and antigovernment slogans they allegedly wrote on buildings.

In Moscow final week, police raided two bars suspected of elevating funds for Ukraine’s army. In line with media studies, police performed patriotic songs and compelled the company to sing alongside throughout the raid. At the very least 40 folks have been briefly detained.

One other latest raid within the capital focused an occasion devoted to the jailed artist Sasha Skochilenko, who’s on trial for spreading false details about the military. The occasion’s individuals reported being crushed by police or threatened with rape.

In Yefremov, Yelena Agafonova, an activist who has been serving to the Moskalyov household, advised AP after the trial that anybody can run afoul of authorities today with their feedback.

“Maybe your youngsters will categorical their opinion someplace. Maybe your youngsters will snigger at one thing someplace, and they are going to be in precisely the identical state of affairs wherein this household is now,” she mentioned. “Maybe a neighbor, who thinks they noticed one thing (untoward), will report on you. So while you’re mendacity on the sofa, it will all occur extra, and extra, and extra.”

Observe AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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