A woman drew an antiwar image in class. Russia detained her dad.


The father of a 12-year-old lady who drew an antiwar image in her elementary college artwork class in Russia is going through felony expenses and a possible three-year jail sentence, and his daughter has been positioned briefly in an orphanage — the most recent instance of kids and fogeys getting caught up within the Kremlin’s draconian crackdown on criticism of its conflict in Ukraine.

The father, Alexei Moskalyov, 53, was detained Wednesday in Yefremov, a city within the Tula area, about 150 miles south of Moscow. He was charged with repeat offenses of “discrediting the Russian army,” following searches of his residence and a evaluation of social media posts that started after his daughter, Masha Moskalyova, made the drawing in her sixth-grade class final April.

Masha’s trainer had requested the scholars to make patriotic drawings to have fun troopers preventing on the entrance strains. Instead, Masha drew an image of a lady standing in entrance of a Ukrainian flag, shielding a toddler from Russian missiles, together with an antiwar slogan: “No to war.”

Masha’s trainer instantly knowledgeable the varsity principal, who reported the incident to the authorities. Masha was later questioned by the FSB, Russia’s important safety service, and Moskalyov was interrogated.

Investigators later discovered caricatures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and feedback supporting Ukraine in his social media posts. Last spring, he was fined about $425 for a remark saying Russian troopers have been “the perpetrators” of the invasion.

“If the daughter had not drawn this drawing, no one would have any paid attention to the father,” Moskalyov’s lawyer, Vladimir Bilienko, mentioned in a phone interview.

But Moskalyov’s authorized troubles didn’t finish there. In December, the authorities opened a brand new felony case accusing him of “discrediting the army,” a cost created underneath Russia’s strict, post-invasion censorship legal guidelines, that carries a possible jail sentence of as much as three years. Security brokers raided Moskalyov’s residence and confiscated belongings and his monetary financial savings. Moskalyov additionally mentioned he was crushed throughout interrogation. Because he’s a single dad, Masha was positioned within the orphanage.

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In Russia’s more and more hostile and arbitrary wartime local weather, pro-war hawks are routinely allowed to criticize the army over its defeats, however others face doubtlessly extreme punishment for advocating peace — and Masha is hardly the one Russian little one to finish up in hassle.

In October, a 10-year-old lady and her mom have been detained in Moscow and questioned by the police after her college principal complained in regards to the lady’s profile image on social media. The lady had used an avatar of “Saint Javelin,” a picture of a lady resembling the Virgin Mary, holding an antitank Javelin missile, which has come to represent Ukrainian resistance.

That identical month, a fifth-grade boy in Yekaterinburg, within the Urals, was reprimanded in class after he wrote a letter urging a soldier to not kill anybody and to return residence. Students have been assigned to write down letters supporting Russian troops on the entrance.

And final March, a sixth-grader in Moscow confronted questioning by juvenile authorities and the police after he challenged his historical past trainer and requested why Putin had began the conflict.

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Other kids have been detained throughout antiwar protests. According to OVD-Info, a watchdog group, no less than 544 minors have been detained throughout antiwar demonstrations final yr, and 7 are at present going through felony prosecution for antiwar views. At least 19 lecturers who expressed antiwar views have been fired, the group mentioned.

“It’s important to understand that the Moskalyov case is a part of a larger, horrifying trend,” mentioned Daria Korolenko, a lawyer and analyst for OVD-Info. “As part of a wider wartime crackdown, the regime is routinely persecuting antiwar minors and their families, while squeezing the Russian youth into a heavily militarized culture.”

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The crackdown solely appears to be getting extra extreme.

On Wednesday, Russian members of parliament proposed new and stricter amendments to the prevailing wartime censorship legal guidelines. One key proposal would additionally make it unlawful to criticize “volunteer formations,” such because the Wagner mercenary group, underneath the umbrella of discrediting the Russian army or spreading “fakes” in regards to the conflict.

Members of parliament additionally proposed that anybody discovered responsible withstand 15 years in jail. The amendments are set for a remaining studying and a vote in mid-March.

According to an OVD-Info report, 447 individuals have been charged up to now yr for antiwar views or protests. The majority of expenses fell underneath the wartime censorship legal guidelines, particularly for the distribution of “fakes.”

“That is more than one new defendant a day,” the report mentioned. “This is the largest wave of political repression in Putin’s Russia.”

On Thursday, the authorities in Tula are anticipated to resolve if Moskalyov will likely be transferred to a jail or positioned underneath home arrest. Because he’s a single mum or dad, that may decide if Masha stays within the state orphanage. As the case has gotten extra public consideration, Bilienko, the lawyer, mentioned he has obtained a number of presents from individuals keen to offer foster care.

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.

One yr of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has modified since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one yr in the past — in methods each massive and small. They have realized to outlive and help one another underneath excessive circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed residence complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll by means of portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a yr of loss, resilience and worry.

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Battle of attrition: Over the previous yr, the conflict has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv within the north to a battle of attrition largely concentrated alongside an expanse of territory within the east and south. Follow the 600-mile entrance line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and check out the place the preventing has been concentrated.

A yr of dwelling aside: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial legislation stopping fighting-age males from leaving the nation, has compelled agonizing choices for thousands and thousands of Ukrainian households about steadiness security, obligation and love, with once-intertwined lives having develop into unrecognizable. Here’s what a prepare station filled with goodbyes appeared like final yr.

Deepening international divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance cast in the course of the conflict as a “global coalition,” however a better look suggests the world is much from united on points raised by the Ukraine conflict. Evidence abounds that the trouble to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, because of its oil and gasoline exports.

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