Updates with confirmation of Moskalev's arrest.
Alexei Moskalev, the single father from Russia’s Tula region who fled house arrest on the eve of his sentencing in a criminal case for “discrediting” the Russian military earlier this week, has been detained in Belarus, Russian news outlet RBC reported Thursday.
Moskalev, who first came to the attention of law enforcement last year when his 12-year-old daughter drew a picture condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, escaped from house arrest on Monday night.
Following a police investigation last year, Mosklaev had been charged with breaking Russia’s wartime censorship laws for anti-war comments he’d made on social media.
His whereabouts remained unknown until Thursday morning when independent Telegram news channel SOTA citing an unnamed source reported that Moskalev had been arrested in the Belarusian capital Minsk.
"Citizen Moskalev has been detained by police officers at the request of the Russian police," the Belarusian Interior Ministry told RBC on Thursday afternoon.
Moskalev’s lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov, who said he’d remained in contact with Moskalev after his escape, said on Telegram that he had been unable to reach his client: “I can’t reach Alexei right now. He isn’t answering the phone. I can’t say with absolute certainty, but all information suggests that [his arrest] is likely true. This is very sad.”
Moskalev’s arrest was most likely the work of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and carried out by its counterpart in Belarus whose operatives raided the Minsk apartment where he was lying low, Zakhvatov said.
“I can say that this operation to capture Moskalev was carried out at the highest level. It was sanctioned and carried out by the Belarusians, but coordinated between the FSB and [the Belarusian] KGB,” Zakhvatov told independent Russian TV channel Dozhd.
Moskalev was arrested for a repeated violation of the censorship law in March, after which his daughter was taken to a foster care facility in their hometown of Yefremov, since when she has not been permitted to see her father.