‘The command came from the top’ Alexey Moskalev, whose daughter’s anti-war drawing sparked the ire of the Russian authorities, has been arrested in Minsk. Here’s what we know.
The Belarusian authorities have reportedly arrested Alexey Moskalev, the single father from Russia’s Tula region who fled house arrest on March 28, just hours before a court convicted him of “discrediting” the Russian military. Lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov, who stayed in contact with Moskalev after his escape, confirmed the news to the independent outlet Mediazona. Zakhvatov later wrote on Telegram: “I can’t get in touch with Alexey right now. He’s not answering his phone. I can’t confirm for certain, but based on indirect evidence, in all likelihood, it’s true. Very unfortunate.”
Update: The Belarusian Interior Ministry has confirmed that Alexey Moskalev was arrested in Minsk. “Moskalev was arrested by police officers at the request of the Russian police,” the Belarusian Interior Ministry’s press service told RBC. The Russian authorities have yet to comment on Moskalev’s arrest.
Alexey Moskalev is the father of sixth-grader Masha Moskaleva, whose school director called the police after she drew an anti-war picture at school last year. On March 28, after just a day of case proceedings, a Tula judge found him guilty of repeatedly “discrediting” the Russian army in posts on social media and sentenced him to two years in prison. The judge also said that Masha would be placed in the custody of social services. Moskalev was not present for the hearing; the court reported that he had fled house arrest the previous night.
The authorities found Moskalev after he turned on his cell phone, a source told the outlet Sota. Former Russian state news employee Marina Ovsyannikova wrote on Telegram that Moskalev was “in capable hands, and his escape was well-organized.” He was only located and arrested, she said, after he “didn’t consider it necessary to observe elementary rules of escaping.” Ovsyannikova later deleted the post.
Speaking to TV Rain, Zakhvatov said that Belarusian KGB officers broke into the apartment in Minsk where Moskalev was staying. “According to indirect evidence, a raid was carried out in the apartment where he was located, the apartment was ransacked, [and] he was pulled out and taken away to an unknown location. According to indirect evidence, it was the Belarusian KGB,” said Zakhvatov, before adding again that he reached this conclusion based on “indirect evidence.” He also said that he hasn’t heard from direct sources that Moskalev was arrested and that he hasn’t been in contact with Moskalev himself.
In addition, Zakhvatov told journalists that Moskalev was likely arrested “due to a failure to observe digital security measures.” He said that he believes the operation to arrest Moskalev was “carried out at the highest level” and involved the Russian FSB. “And the speed with which the KGB acted suggests that the interaction happened very quickly, and the command to arrest Moskalev came from the very top,” the lawyer added.