The persecution of dissidents in Russia has reached a new level. The state takes their children from their families and places them in boarding schools


Returning to the Moscaliov case, the magazine notes that the Prosecutors signaled that this was the sentence they wanted, and in the Russian judicial system they would not be disappointed. The surprise was that the accused was not actually in the courtroom when the sentence was read. After the verdict, the court’s press officer loudly explained why: he had escaped from house arrest overnight.

The indictment and conviction heralds a new kind of Kremlin crackdown: separating families as punishment for anti-war activism. Outside the courtroom, Moskaliov’s lawyer, Vladimir Biliyenko, said he was shocked. “I have never seen a verdict handed down without an accused,” he said. “All I can say is I hope he’s safe. Where it’s a secondary concern for me.” A day later, Moskaliov was detained in a shelter in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Apparently, he was in the process of being smuggled into the West.

The story of the Moskaliovs began almost a year ago, when 12-year-old Masha was asked to make a drawing in support of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. For most students at her school in Yefremov, a town five hours’ drive south of Moscow, it was a simple task.

But Masha produced a drawing that shows her understanding of the truths: a young family, rockets in flight, with the captions “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine.” Her horrified teacher reported the matter to the principal, who reportedly passed it on to the police. A day later, both Masha and her father were taken out of school by men in uniform. “The other students were watching from the windows, as if we were terrorists,” Moskaliov later told local media.

A case against Moskaliov was opened when prosecutors discovered his own anti-war social media posts. He was fined 32,000 rubles ($415) for expressing his anger at reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women. He tried to put an end to the incident by withdrawing his daughter from school and moving to another city.

But just before the new year, the security services raided his home again. Moskaliov says they confiscated his family’s savings (worth about $4,750), beat him, smashed his head against a wall and played the Russian national anthem at high volume. Prosecutors opened a case against him for “repeated discrediting” of the Russian military, which could mean up to three years in prison and separation from his daughter.

On March 1, Moskaliov was arrested while returning from work. On the same day, Maşa was taken and placed in a children’s home. A parallel proceeding to terminate Moskalyov’s parental rights, which amounts to a complete separation between parent and child, is due to be heard on April 6.

Biliyenko stated that this legal process is being used to punish the father and daughter for their anti-war stances. The two are very close, he said, and the separation would affect them both: “They support each other.

They are happy in each other’s company. Everything else is irrelevant to them.” A letter written by Masha from the shelter, later published by activists, emphasized the close connection. “Hello, father,” the letter reads. “I love you so much and I want you to know that what you are doing is right… You are my hero.”

When a correspondent tried to visit the children’s shelter, a spartan building behind a tall green fence, a security guard turned him away. Biliyenko says that he fears for Masha’s well-being and that there are rumors that he tried to kill himself.

Mr. Moskalyov’s case is the most egregious of its kind, but similar cases have been reported elsewhere in Russia. In February, police prosecuted a Moscow family after their daughter posted an avatar of the Javelin Saint, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, on social media.

In Dagestan, a region in southern Russia, a schoolgirl was forced to apologize on camera after saying “Glory to Ukraine, Putin is a scoundrel” at an assembly on the last day of school.

And in Buryatia, Siberia, authorities placed a disabled 16-year-old boy in care after his adoptive mother, Natalya Filonova, an anti-war activist, was arrested. His adoptive father was hospitalized following a heart attack.

The boy was not allowed to attend his mother’s trial. A leaked recording of a conversation with an orphanage worker suggests Ms Filonovaya should have “known better … than to piss against the wind”.

According to OVD-Info, a human rights watchdog, more than 500 minors have been arrested and seven prosecuted since the start of the war. As the authorities encourage loyalists to turn on their anti-war neighbors, the practice of hitting dissidents where it hurts—their families—will continue. “They’re going to go after others, they’re going to imprison even more people and take even more children away from their parents,” Mr. Biliyenko says. the mouth.”

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