Fugitive Russian man whose daughter drew anti-war pictures detained in Belarus

<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

A Russian man who fled house arrest after being sentenced to two years in prison for discrediting Russia in social media posts, following an investigation prompted by his daughter’s anti-war drawings, has been arrested in Belarus, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said Alexei Moskalyov, 54, had been arrested in the capital 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,” said Zakhvatov, who had been in contact with Moskalyov. “Most likely it was due to him using a mobile phone improperly,” he told Reuters.

Moskalyov was sentenced to two years in prison as punishment for his criticism of Kremlin policies in social media posts. Police investigated him after his 13-year-old daughter, Maria, refused to participate in a patriotic class at her school and made drawings showing rockets being fired at a family standing under a Ukrainian flag and another that said “Glory to Ukraine!”

Related: Russian man detained after daughter’s anti-war drawings flees house arrest

Moskalyov and Maria have been separated since he was placed under house arrest at the start of March and she was moved to a state-run “rehabilitation centre” for minors, with the pair denied contact. On Wednesday, Vladimir Biliyenko, a lawyer representing the family, said he had visited the shelter a day earlier but the girl was not there.

“It seems that they are hiding Masha,” he told Agence France-Presse, referring to the girl by her diminutive name. He said a lot of supporters wanted to see her too.

Biliyenko said it was difficult to predict what would happen to Maria. Moskalyov is at risk of losing parental rights in a separate trial due to begin on 6 April.

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

Biliyenko told Reuters he expected it would take several days to complete the formalities for Moskalyov to be sent back to Russia.

The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday defended the sentencing of Moskalyov, describing the father’s parenting as “deplorable”. But in a letter published on social media Maria called her father “the bravest person in the world”.

“I love you very much and know that you are not guilty of anything,” the letter read. “Everything will be OK and we will be together. You are my hero,” it added.

Biliyenko confirmed the authenticity of the letter.