(Moscow) A Russian, separated from his 13-year-old daughter for a drawing against the offensive in Ukraine that she had made in college, and who had fled before being sentenced to two years in prison, was arrested in Belarus, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

Alexei Moskaliov, 54, was “arrested by Belarusian police” near the capital Minsk “at the request” of Russian authorities, the Belarusian Interior Ministry said, quoted by the agencies.

Emblematic of the repression against those who oppose the conflict in Ukraine, the case of Alexei Moskaliov, separated from his daughter Maria, a 13-year-old schoolgirl whom he raised alone, arouses great emotion in Russia.

The affair began when Maria Moskaliova drew a drawing in class showing missiles heading towards a woman and a child with a Ukrainian flag.

In the context of an all-out hunt for voices critical of the offensive in Ukraine, the school principal immediately alerted the police and the schoolgirl was placed in a home, while the father was placed under house arrest in early March.

On Tuesday, a court in Efremov, 300 km south of Moscow, sentenced Moskaliov to two years in prison for “discrediting” the military by posting online messages critical of the offensive against Ukraine.

A letter written by Maria Moskaliova in which she says of her support for her father added to the emotion after being made public on Wednesday.

“I love you very much, you are not guilty of anything, I will always be on your side,” wrote the young girl, who was placed in a home and banned from any telephone contact with her father.

“I’m sure everything will be alright and we’ll be together again…I know you won’t back down, you’re strong, we’re strong…I’m going to pray for you and for us,” he added. She.

On Wednesday, the Kremlin said it was following the case closely and accused the single father of “deplorably fulfilling his parental obligations”.

Another trial is scheduled for April 6 to decide whether or not to restrict Mr. Moskaliov’s parental rights.

Sign of the indignation aroused by this case, an online petition demanding the return of the child to his father has collected more than 145,000 signatures, despite the climate of repression.

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine last year, several known opponents or simple anonymous individuals have been sentenced to prison for criticizing the offensive.