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A Russian court has reversed a decision to strip Aleksej Moskalev of custody of his 13-year-old daughter after he was convicted of criticizing the authorities.

In late March, Moskalev was sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing the authorities. At the same time, he was stripped of custody of his 13-year-old daughter, who had been at the center of the case from the start.

About parental rights

Now the Russian human rights organization OVD-Info reports via Telegram that the court has not ruled in line with the request of the authorities to deprive her of custody of her daughter.

– This is an important moral victory, according to lawyer Vladimir Bilienko OVD-Info.

The case started when, in April 2022, Masja Moskaleva’s daughter drew pictures with the text “No to war” and “Glory over Ukraine”, she and her father were arrested and interrogated by the FSB.

The father was fined 32,000 rubles. Authorities then began building a larger criminal case against him based on a law Putin passed after his invasion of Ukraine.

A teacher on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula was severely punished after playing this song in a classroom. Video: Telegram @mash_na_volna. Reporter: Vegard Krüger / Dagbladet TV.
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The next day, he learned that police were drafting a case against him for “discrediting the military,” one of the new laws Putin has passed since the invasion to crack down on criticism of the war.

On December 30, the family’s house was searched by the FSB. His daughter was placed in detention at an institution in the country.

On 1 March, Aleksej Moskalev was arrested again, and from 2 March he was under house arrest.

In late March, he was sentenced to two years in prison in a penal colony. It was previously known that he had escaped from house arrest, however he was soon arrested in Belarus.

Not black

The now Riga-based independent Russian online newspaper Meduza reported on Wednesday that Moskalev’s lawyers had not been able to contact him – and therefore they did not know where he was.

They cited the Telegram account Mozhem Obyasnit, which is run by exiled Russian opposition figure Open Russia organization Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

– Prison services in Russia and Belarus have not yet responded to requests from lawyers, said Dmitrij Zakhvatov, one of Moskalev’s lawyers, according to the organization.

The last time they communicated with Moskalev was before he escaped from house arrest.

His daughter’s image led to his arrest

Wagner support

The verdict against Moskalev received a lot of attention, both internationally and in Russia. Since his arrest, a number of activists have worked to free him.

However, support for Moskalev does not only come from democracy activists. Nationalist, friend of Putin and Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is also involved in the case.

In a letter to the prosecutor’s office in Tula, the man’s native Russia, Prigozhin wrote with two other Wagner commanders that they considered the arrest and sentence unjust.

– Exploits

In the letter, Prigozhin asked the prosecution to “check the application of the law” in the judgment against Moskalev, and suggested that lawyers affiliated with Wagner participate in the case.

– Prigozhin’s reaction was ironic, while he was one of the biggest and most outspoken supporters of a bill to punish those who “discredited the military”, wrote the famous think tank Institute for War Studies (ISW) in an analysis.

ISW thus believing the backlash may be due to Prigozhin trying to exploit the public debate sparked by the incident to position himself and Wagner’s group.

Georgie Burke

"Music maven. Evil pop culture lover. Unapologetic creator. Friend of animals everywhere."

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