‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Aleksei Moskalev, whose daughter drew an anti-war picture in a lesson at school, is a political prisoner

28 March 2023

Aleksei Moskalev, a resident of Tula region, has been put under house arrest on charges of ‘discrediting’ the Russian army in a post on the Odnoklassniki social network, and his minor daughter has been placed in an orphanage

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The independent human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Aleksei Moskalev a political prisoner. The criminal charges against Aleksei Moskalev are based on his political views and are intended to force critics of the authorities to end their civic activity and to intimidate Russian society as a whole. As a result, the right of his minor daughter Maria Moskaleva to live with her family has been violated.

We demand that Aleksei Moskalev be immediately released from house arrest, that all criminal charges against him be dropped, and that his daughter be returned to him.

What is the case against Aleksei Moskalev?

In April 2022, a school principal in the town of Efremov, Tula region, called the police after 12-year-old Maria Moskaleva, whose father is raising her alone, drew a picture in an art class dedicated to patriotic drawings of a mother trying to protect her child from missiles coming from the direction of Russia. Police officers visited the school and subsequently FSB officers interrogated the girl and examined her father’s social media accounts. Aleksei Moskalev was fined for ‘discrediting the Russian armed forces’ (Article 20.3.3, Part 1, of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences) in a comment criticising the Russian army.

After the incident, Maria Moskaleva was afraid to attend lessons, and her father removed her from the school. 

On 30 December 2022 the Moskalevs’ house was searched in connection with a criminal investigation into alleged repeated ‘discrediting’ of the Russian armed forces (Article 280.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) on account of several comments on social networks. Aleksei Moskalev was released pending trial under travel restrictions.

On 27 February 2023 Aleksei Moskalev was placed on a wanted list. On 1 March he was apprehended at his new place of residence and his daughter Maria was transferred to a social-rehabilitation centre for minors. Aleksei Moskalev was charged under Article 280.3, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code. On 2 March 2023 Efremovsky court in Tula region placed Moskalev under house arrest; the investigator allowed Moskalev to take his daughter from the orphanage. However, the local Commission on Minors’ Affairs decided that Maria Moskaleva should not be released to go home and since then has also been preventing her from communicating with her father.

On 27 March 2023, Judge Anton Malikov sitting in a session at Efremovsky inter-district court in one day examined the merits of the case. Prosecutor Oleg Timakov requested that Aleksei Moskalev be sentenced to two years in a general regime penal colony.

Why do we consider Aleksei Moskalev a political prisoner?

Article 280.3 was introduced into the Russian Criminal Code as a matter of urgency immediately after Russia began its war full-scale against Ukraine and effectively prohibits any criticism of the Russian authorities or military actions, thereby violating the right of citizens to freedom of expression.

This article does not comply with the principle of legal certainty since there is no definition of the concept of ‘discrediting’ in the Russian Criminal Code. Consequently, defendants cannot know in advance for which of their actions they may be held criminally liable.

By defining a criminal offence in terms of previous convictions under administrative law, Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code introduces double jeopardy – repeated punishment for the same actions. Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code therefore contradicts the basic principles of law.

Like others prosecuted under this article, Aleksei Moskalev was simply expressing a personal opinion about the war. As mentioned above, speaking critically about the actions of the authorities and the war is an inalienable right of a citizen. 

The special nature of the Moskalevs’ case is that both Aleksei Moskalev and his minor daughter have been subjected to repressive measures for exercising freedom of speech.

We believe that Maria Moskaleva’s removal from her family is a demonstrative act of repression. It is an attempt to intimidate all opponents of the war, not only with prison sentences but also with the destruction of their families and pressure on their children.

Further information about this case and the position of the human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ is available on our website.

An up-to-date list of political prisoners in Russia is also available on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can sign the petition for the return of Maria Moskaleva to her family here

The support group for the Moskalev family can be found on Telegram.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. For more information about donating, see our website

Translated by Rights in Russia

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