Russian girl who drew antiwar sketch leaves orphanage

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Moskalyov's lawyer Vladimir Biliyenko shows drawings that Maria Moskalyova, daughter of Alexei Moskalyov, drew for her father in a courtroom in Yefremov, Tula region, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 27, 2023. A court in Russia on Tuesday convicted a single father over social media posts criticizing the war in Ukraine and sentenced him to two years in prison a case brought to the attention of authorities by his daughter's drawings against the invasion at school, according to the man's lawyer and local activists. The 54-year-old Moskalyov, a single father of a 13-year-old daughter, was accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian army, a criminal offense in accordance to a law Russian authorities adopted shortly after sending troops into Ukraine. (AP Photo)

A Russian girl sent to an orphanage after drawing an antiwar sketch at school has been taken from the facility by her mother, the Kremlin children's rights commissioner said Wednesday.

In a case that drew international outrage, the father of 13-year-old Maria Moskalyova was convicted of discrediting the Russian military and handed a two-year prison term, while his daughter was dispatched to the orphanage.

The Kremlin children's rights ombudsperson, Maria Lvova-Belova, said she had met the girl's mother, who had long been separated from her husband and child. The girl had previously refused to live with her mother but changed her mind, so the mother took her home, Lvova-Belova said.

The father, Alexei Moskalyov, fled house arrest just before his sentencing hearing last week in the town of Yefremov south of Moscow. He was detained in Belarus two days later. His current whereabouts were unclear, but a court in Yefremov is set to consider Thursday a request by prosecutors to strip him of his parental rights.

Moskalyov, 54 was charged over social media posts criticizing the war in Ukraine under a law adopted days after Russian troops invaded in February 2022. He rejected the accusations.

According to his lawyer and supporters, Moskalyov’s troubles began after his daughter drew a picture at Yefremov School No. 9 that depicted missiles flying over a Russian flag at a woman and child. The drawing also featured the words “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine.”

The school called police, the girl was questioned, and Moskalyov was fined and eventually prosecuted and convicted over his social media posts.

The case underscored the scope of a Kremlin crackdown on dissent that has relentlessly targeted anyone who dared to criticize the war. Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most prominent rights groups and a winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, has declared Moskalyov as a political prisoner.

The International Criminal Court is seeking to arrest Lvova-Belova along with Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes for allegedly deporting children from Ukraine. She spoke to a U.N. meeting Wednesday to argue that the children were moved for their safety and said Moscow was working with international organizations to return them to their families.