The Kremlin has broken its silence on the case of a single father sentenced to prison after his daughter’s anti-war drawing provoked the wrath of Vladimir Putin’s security services.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday the case against Alexei Moskalev is not as “straightforward” as it seems and attacked him for his “lamentable” parenting.
“Indeed, [it was] very lamentable with the performance of parental duties and with the provision of the child’s living,” Peskov claimed, saying the case against Moskalev is actually “very old.”
“I don’t want to and can’t go into details, but everything is much more complicated, everything is not so straightforward,” he said.
His comments came amid growing outrage that the Kremlin is apparently using the single father from the Tula region—and his 13-year-old daughter—to make an example for any other would-be dissenters.
The single father was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for supposedly “discrediting” the Russian military after his daughter Masha drew a picture featuring the words “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine” at school. Police came for Moskalev and his daughter the very next day. Prosecutors later claimed they’d also found comments by Moskalev on social media in which he criticized the Russian military.
Moskalev fled from house arrest before he could be taken to serve his sentence, a Russian court said. While that announcement was immediately met by suspicion that something may have happened to him in custody, Maria Ovsyannikova, a former propagandist who made headlines with an on-air anti-war protest last year, said she knew the people who helped Moskalev escape and that he was in “safe hands.”
His daughter, meanwhile, has effectively been deemed an orphan by the government as a result of the case against her father. Authorities say she is currently in a children’s rehabilitation center.
In a heartbreaking letter to her father published Wednesday, Masha wrote, “I love you very much, and know that you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I believe that everything will be OK and we will be together,” she said.
“Someday we will sit at the table together and remember all of this… I’m proud. Yes, Papa, I can say that I am proud of my father,” she wrote, adding that she was grateful to have understood “the bitter truth, rather than a sweet lie.”
“I beg of you—just don’t give up,” she wrote, signing the note: “Love you, you’re a hero. My hero.”
The Daily Beast