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Fugitive Russian father convicted of insulting army detained in Belarus

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Alexei Moskalyov, a Russian who has been sentenced to two years in prison for discrediting the army and seen his daughter taken into care, has been detained in Belarus after fleeing house arrest, lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told Reuters on Thursday.

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Zakhvatov said Moskalyov, 54, had been arrested in Minsk, most likely as a result of turning on his mobile phone and giving away his location.

“Apparently someone made a mistake, maybe it was due to him using a mobile phone,” he said. “Most likely it was due to him using a mobile phone improperly.”

Moskalyov came to the attention of Russian police last year after his daughter Masha, then 12, drew an anti-war picture at school showing Russia firing missiles at a Ukrainian mother and child.

He was later charged with discrediting Russia’s armed forces in connection with separate anti-war comments he was alleged to have made on social media.

The case has resonated widely in Russia and abroad, particularly since Masha, now 13, was separated from her father and placed in a children’s home at the start of March.

Moskalyov fled house arrest in the town of Yefremov, south of Moscow, in the early hours of Tuesday. Later the same day, a court sentenced him in absentia to two years in a penal colony.

It was not clear how he had made his way from Yefremov to Minsk, a distance of about 700 km (440 miles), or what further legal consequences he would now face.

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