OVD-Info Weekly Bulletin No. 296: A family separated

11 March 2023

OVD-Info is a Moscow-based NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests and prosecutions in Russia. Each week OVD-Info publishes a bulletin with the latest news, which is translated here. To receive the mailing in Russian, visit here.

Illustration: Anastasia Krainiok for OVD-Info


Hello! The daughter of a defendant in an ‘anti-war’ case is being held in a rehabilitation centre, two activists have been sentenced to prison because of publications about the war, and the participants in the ‘Mayakovsky Square readings’ are facing new charges.

Sixteen-year-old Maria Moskaleva is not being allowed out of the rehabilitation centre. The girl is not allowed to see her father Aleksei Moskalev, who is under house arrest in a criminal case over discrediting the Russian army, nor is she allowed visitors. The girl ended up in the rehabilitation centre after her father was arrested for an anti-war post on the Odnoklassniki website. The pressure on the family began back in April 2022 when Maria drew an anti-war drawing at art class, after which the school’s headteacher called the police.

  • Why do I need to know this? Maria Moskaleva is being illegally detained in the rehabilitation centre: after Aleksei Moskalev was put under a restraining order, his daughter should have been returned home. Then the investigator issued an order for the child to be returned to her father. The investigator came to collect the schoolgirl, but staff of the centre would not release her, citing a decision of the commission on minors’ affairs. In the meantime, Moskalev cannot even go out to buy groceries without his daughter’s help; being under house arrest, he does not have right of contact with anyone except the investigator, his lawyer and people who are registered at the same address as him.

Two defendants in an anti-war case have been sentenced to prison. The author of the Telegram channel “MSU [Moscow State University] Protest” Dmitry Ivanov was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison because of posts about the war. He was found guilty of spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army. Bulat Shumekov, an activist from Kemerevo, was sentenced to prison for seven years for the same offence. The reason for the prosecution was a video about the war in Ukraine.

  • Why is this important? The Russian authorities continue to harshly punish those who speak out about the war. According to our data, at least 144 people around the country have been prosecuted under the article of the Russian Criminal Code about spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian army. A person may find themselves under investigation just because, for example, they decided to share information about the war in Ukraine on social media. In this way, the security forces want to silence Russian citizens, keeping them in constant fear of being imprisoned. 

The defendants in the ‘Mayakovsky readings’ case are facing a new charge. Artem Kamardin, Egor Shtovba and Nikolai Dainenko have been charged under another article of the Criminal Code – incitement to group action intended to undermine state security. A criminal case regarding incitement to hatred was brought against them in September, since when the young men have been held on remand. The reason for the investigation was the poem ‘Kill me, militiaman’, which Kamardin read by the Mayakovsky monument on 25 September 2022 during  ‘anti-mobilisation’ ‘Mayakovsky readings’. The next day, the young man’s home was searched, and it was reported that police officers beat him, using sexualised violence, and also tortured his girlfriend.

  • Why do I need to know this? The criminal article on public incitement to carry out activities against  state security only appeared in 2022. The charges Kamardin stem from the fact that, during his appearance at the ‘Mayakovsky readings’ he called for people to ‘pay attention to the rules’, that is ‘not to take’ summonses from the hands of military representatives, ‘not to sign’ documents about having received summonses, and ‘not to appear’ under summons. Stovba and Daineko are considered his ‘accomplices’ because they ‘repeated Kamardin’s piece aloud and raised their arms’. Under this article of the Criminal Code, the young men could face up to seven years in prison – all for involvement in a poetry evening.

The apartment and dacha of the chief editor of RosBusinessConsulting have been seized over an unpaid fine. The reason was a debt of 5,000 roubles Peter Kanaev owed – he had failed to pay one of the fines issued to the media organisation over a breach of the rules about labelling the NGO as a ‘foreign agent’. The journalist said he had intended to do it, but missed the notification. “I consider the decision to seize my flat and dacha over a debt of 5,000 roubles, and the ensuing penalty, inexplicably excessive, considering the relative scale of the violation,” he said. Kanaev had already been fined multiple times for references to ‘foreign agents’ in publications without flagging.

  • Why is this important? Under total censorship and the authorities’ efforts to get rid of independent media, even a reference to ‘foreign agents’ can be a pretext for prosecution. And if there is no legal basis for serious pressure on journalists, the police find a way to apply it anyway. The ridiculous behaviour of bailiffs in Peter Kanaev’s case is an excellent illustration of this. His case bears out the fact that the state is prepared to use the widest variety of methods to force the press to act as it wishes.


Fired because of an anti-war protest. Vladimir Kiselev from Nizhny Novgorod used to work at the Sokol aircraft plant, travel the world and sometimes attend rallies. But then colleagues wrote a denunciation of Vladimir because he had torn down from a stand leaflets that called for donations to the army. Read his account of the events on our site, on Yandex.ru and Medium.

Translated by Anna Bowles

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