TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — A Russian court convicted a single father over social media posts critical of the war in Ukraine and sentenced him to two years in prison — a case brought against him after his daughter’s drawing at school opposed the invasion, according to his lawyer and activists.
But Alexei Moskalyov fled house arrest before his verdict was delivered in his Russian hometown of Yefremov and is at large, court officials said. His 13-year-old daughter Maria, who has been taken from him by the authorities, wrote him a supportive letter for his trial from the orphanage where she is living, according to his lawyer, telling him, “Daddy, you’re my hero.”
Moskalyov’s case has drawn international attention and was a grim reminder that the Kremlin is intensifing its crackdown on dissent, targeting more people and handing out harsher punishments for any criticism of the war. The broad government campaign of repression has been unseen since the Soviet era.
Moskalyov, 54, was accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian Army, a criminal offense in accordance to a law Russian authorities adopted shortly after sending troops into Ukraine.
He was indicted for a series of social media posts about Russian atrocities in Ukraine and referencing the “terrorist” regime in Moscow that he insists he didn’t make. But, according to his lawyer and activists who supported him throughout the case and trial, his troubles started last spring after his 13-year-old daughter, Maria, drew an antiwar picture at Yefremov School No. 9 that depicted missiles flying over a Russian flag at a woman and child and said, “Glory to Ukraine.”
ALAUSÍ, Ecuador (AP) — Rescuers pulled the body of a 6-year-old girl from the rubble of a house buried by a big landslide in central Ecuador, raising the confirmed death toll to eight while the search continued for more than 60 people still missing.
The girl’s body was the first to be found in about 40 hours of searching after the initial landslide Sunday night, reflecting the difficulty rescuers were having digging through the mud, rocks and rubble. The landslide buried at least 50 houses in the Andean town of Alausí.
The girl was found at a depth of 5 meters (5 yards) on one side of the lower part of the avalanche. Rescuers expanded the search in the area to look for the girl’s uncle and two cousins, who relatives said were with her when the landslide struck.
The head of one of the rescue teams, Jorge Torres, told The Associated Press the conditions of the terrain made the search very difficult since the bodies “must be between 20 and 30 meters underground.” He said rescuers were feeling tremors in the ground and feared another landslide.
Torres said the first hours are essential for finding survivors and hopes of finding people alive fade as the days go by. But he said they will continue searching hoping “to rescue someone alive or at least provide peace of mind amid the pain with a body for relatives to mourn.”
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for his nuclear scientists to increase production of weapons-grade material to make bombs to put on his increasing range of weapons.
North Korean photos of the meeting also showed what appeared to be a small new tactical warhead that was possibly designed to fit on a variety of delivery systems developed in recent years to overwhelm South Korean defenses.
The report in state media followed a series of missile launches — seven launch events in this month alone — and rising threats to use the weapons against his enemies. North Korea’s weapons tests and U.S.-South Korea military exercises have intensified in a tit-for-tat cycle, underscoring heightened tensions in the region.
Officials say North Korea could further up the ante in coming weeks or months with more provocative displays of its military nuclear program, possibly including its first test detonation of a nuclear device since September 2017.
The Korean Central News Agency said Kim, during a meeting with officials and scientists at a state nuclear weapons institute, stressed the need to ramp up bomb fuel production to meet his goals to expand his nuclear arsenal “exponentially,” and issued unspecified “important tasks” for his nuclear industry.