A Russian man who was detained by police after his daughter drew anti-war pictures at school was sentenced on Tuesday to two years after being convicted of discrediting the armed force.
But in a dramatic turn of events, a court spokesperson said the man, Alexei Moskalyov, had fled house arrest overnight and his whereabouts were currently not known.
Moskalyov, a single parent from the town of Yefremov, 150 miles south of Moscow, has been separated from his 13-year-old daughter since he was placed under house arrest at the start of this month and she was moved to a state-run shelter.
The family said they had faced pressure from police since last April when his daughter, a sixth-grader, refused to participate in a patriotic class at her school and made several drawings showing rockets being fired at a family standing under a Ukrainian flag and another that said “Glory to Ukraine!”
School officials at the time summoned the police, who questioned the girl and threatened her father.
Police then began examining Moskalyov’s social media activity and the father was eventually charged with discrediting the armed forces for his posts in which he called the Russian regime “terrorists” and described the Russian army as “rapists”.
The high-profile case was criticised by Russian human rights groups and led to an online campaign to reunite father and daughter.
Police in the Tula region south of Moscow said that Moskalyov had escaped house arrest in the early hours of Tuesday and that they had “started looking for the suspect”.
Earlier in the day, a lawyer for the family visited his daughter in the children’s shelter and came away with drawings she had made for him that read: “Dad, you are my hero”, according to a video posted by the independent news outlet Sota.vision.
According to the MSK1 news outlet, the children’s shelter was having an “emergency” meeting following the news that Moskalyov had fled.
Moskalyov’s lawyer, Vladimir Bilienko, previously told the Guardian that the girl would be moved to an orphanage if no close relative could be found who was willing to take care of her.
Since the start of the war, a number of politicians, activists and other Russians have fled the country after being placed under house arrest and pending trial.