Masha Moskaleva: Girl who drew anti-war image handed to mother

A Russian girl who was taken away from her father after she drew an anti-war picture at school has been handed to her estranged mother, authorities say.

Russia’s children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova said teenager Masha Moskaleva had at first not wanted to go to her mother, but changed her mind.

Her father Alexei received a jail sentence as a result of the drawing, but his whereabouts are unknown.

Masha was placed in care after her father was arrested in March.

The mother has been estranged from the family for at least seven years, but it is not clear why, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Moskalev went on the run the night before the verdict in his criminal case.

The Belarusian authorities say they detained him in Minsk last week. However, this was never confirmed and there has been no information on his whereabouts since.

A court hearing was held on Thursday in Mr Moskalev’s home town of Yefremov, 300km (185 miles) south of Moscow, into restricting his parental rights.


A drawing by 12-year-old Masha appears to show a Ukrainian woman with a child holding up a hand to say no as Russian missiles approach
Image caption,
Masha’s picture prompted the case against her father Alexei
Russian authorities say the case was prompted by the father’s poor parenting, rather than his conviction.

Independent human rights group OVD-Info published what it described as a handwritten letter from Alexei to his daughter, urging her to “ask for your dad, be insistent” if she was brought to the hearing.

He also asks her to agree if any relatives offer to become her legal guardian.

Some activists were present outside the court, independent media say. One of them, named as Lena Tarbayeva, was arrested for holding a placard with a version of Masha’s drawing and the words “Putin eats children”.

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The hearing was later adjourned until 20 April.

Mr Moskalev was given a two-year prison sentence in absentia on 28 March for discrediting the army. The authorities say he fled from house arrest the night before the verdict.

The child whose drawing sparked a police investigation
He came to the attention of authorities last year – after, he said, a school reported the drawing to police.

His problems began when Masha, then 12, drew a Ukrainian flag in April last year with the words “Glory to Ukraine”, rockets and a Russian flag with the phrase “No to war!”

In a separate development, diplomats walked out of a talk by Ms Lvova-Belova on evacuating children from war zones.

The talk was given by video link by the children’s commissioner, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges.

The US, UK, Albania and Malta left the room where the Security Council meeting was being held, while the US and UK blocked a webcast of the event.

The ICC accuses her of illegally deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

Moscow says the warrants, against Ms Lvova-Belova and President Vladimir Putin, are not valid as Russia is not a signatory to the treaty establishing the ICC.

It does not deny the evacuations, but presents them as a humanitarian campaign to help abandoned children.

The walkout took place as France’s UN mission issued a statement on behalf of 50 member countries condemning “the forced deportation of Ukrainian children, as well as other grave violations against children committed by Russian forces in Ukraine”.

Explaining the decision to block the webcast of the Russian event, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Ms Lvova-Belova should not have “an international podium to spread disinformation and to try to defend her horrible actions that are taking place in Ukraine”.

Ms Lvova-Belova said in her presentation that about five million Ukrainians had travelled to Russia since February last year, when the invasion began, including 700,000 children.

“I want to stress that unlike the Ukrainian side, we don’t use children for propaganda,” she said, quoted by Reuters.


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