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29 Mar, 2023 08:32

Jail time for single father 'unfair' – Wagner chief

The two-year prison term imposed for discrediting the Russian military operation could see the man’s daughter end up in an orphanage
Jail time for single father 'unfair' – Wagner chief

The head of the Wagner Group private military company (PMC) Evgeny Prigozhin has written to a regional prosecutor, asking him to review the legality of a two-year prison sentence imposed on a single father over online posts criticizing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

“We consider the sentence handed to Aleksey Moskalev to be unfair, especially considering that his daughter Masha would have to grow up in an orphanage,” Prigozhin wrote in a letter on Tuesday, which was also signed by a Wagner PMC unit commander and the head of a group representing veterans of military conflicts.

The signatories asked Tula Region’s prosecutor Aleksey Gritsaenko to “check the legality of this sentence” and allow their lawyers to participate in the case on the side of the defendant.

The letter pointed out that some orphaned children of Wagner troops, who were killed in the conflict in Ukraine, have also ended up in residential social care. “We consider it to be a huge tragedy for Russia and the future of our country,” it stated.

Aleksey Moskalev, a 53-year-old resident of the town of Yefremov in Tula Region, was sentenced to two years in prison by a local court on Tuesday after being found guilty of repeated discreditation of the Russian Armed Forces.

The decision by the judge has left the man’s 13-year-old daughter in a social institution as he had been raising her without a mother.

Moskalev was sentenced in absentia as, according to the court, he cut off his ankle tag and fled house arrest the night before the trial. His whereabouts currently remain unknown.

He was initially fined for criticism of the Russia military operation in Ukraine on social media in April last year. He was investigated shortly after his daughter’s school alerted the police about her drawing in a fine arts class, which reportedly featured Russian and Ukrainian flags, along with an image of a woman and a child, and flying missiles.

Moskalev has written several more posts criticizing the Russian military operation since then, which led to a criminal case being launched against him before the New Year. In early March, he was placed under house arrest. His daughter is currently staying at a social rehabilitation center in Yefremov. It’s yet to be decided whether she will move to stay with relatives or will be sent to an orphanage, the lawyers said. The court hearing is scheduled to take place in early April.

In March 2022, shortly after the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict, Russia adopted a law making the deliberate dissemination of “false information” about the country’s military punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a heavy fine. Under the same legislation, those found guilty of “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces can be jailed for up to five years and fined.