Russian FSB. Reuters/Vladimir Davydov


  • The man, 53, fled house arrest before he was sentenced to two years in jail
  • He was found guilty of discrediting the Russian army on social media
  • Authorities charged him after his daughter drew an anti-war picture in school

A single father in Russia's western Tula region who was accused of discrediting his country's military after his daughter drew an anti-war picture at school last year is now on the run, authorities said.

Alexei Moskalyov did not appear when a judge in the town of Yefremov found him guilty of his charge and sentenced him Tuesday to two years in a penal colony because he described Russian soldiers as rapists and Russia's leadership as "terrorists" on social media, Politico reported.

The 53-year-old, who appeared in court the previous day, fled house arrest the night before his sentencing, a court spokeswoman announced once the recent proceedings were over.

This announcement was allegedly met with applause and several cries of "Bravo!" from some of those in attendance.

Moskalyov, a bird breeder, had been detained after a teacher called the police on his 13-year-old daughter Masha in April last year.

The teacher had asked students to draw pictures that showed support for the Russian forces invading Ukraine at the time.

Masha, then a sixth grader, reportedly drew a Ukrainian flag with the words "Glory to Ukraine" and a Russian flag bearing the phrase "No to war!"

"Slava Ukraini," translated as "Glory to Ukraine" in English, is a popular Ukrainian salute that is often accompanied by the response, "Heroiam slava," or "Glory to the heroes!"

Russia's Federal Security Service and child protection services got involved in the case, and Moskalyov was later charged with discrediting the Russian army over his social media posts.

Amendments to Russia's Criminal Code signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March made discrediting the country's armed forces punishable by up to five years in jail.

"I'm in shock. A prison sentence for expressing your opinion is a terrible thing. A two-year jail term is a nightmare," Yefremov town councilor Olga Podolskaya said.

"When I heard that Alexei had gone on the run, that was the second shock. We hope that Alexei is OK and that nothing has happened to him," she added.

Moskalyov's lawyer, Vladimir Biliyenko, claimed he was unaware of his client's plan to flee.

"I don't know where he [Moskalyov] is," he told British state-owned broadcaster BBC.

Masha was sent to a children's home earlier this month when her father's criminal case began, but Moskalyov's supporters were told she was not at the supposed social rehabilitation institution where she was supposed to be during a visit.

The child was attending a "culinary tournament" out of town, the facility's director was cited as saying by independent Russian media, fueling speculation regarding her actual whereabouts.

Repression at home intensified after President Vladimir Putin launched the Ukraine offensive