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The Russian punk band “Naive” actually celebrated their 35th anniversary on Saturday evening at Club 1930 Moscow. However, the happy event took a back seat for a moment: According to a report by the Russian exile medium “Mediazona”, frontman and singer Alexander “Chacha” Ivanov stepped up to the microphone wearing a T-shirt with the name “Masha Moskaleva” on it . The 13-year-old girl and her father recently caused a stir in Russia.

Visibly moved, Ivanov addressed the fans. He said he tried to brush the subject aside but couldn’t. For some reason, the case of Maria Moskalyov (Masha is a diminutive for Maria in Russian) would not let him go. Ivanov explained that his own daughter is about the same age as Maria and urged fans to google the case. “Be appalled by what happened to Maria and her family,” Ivanov said. His speech ended with the words “because of a picture she drew in art class”. The fans chanted “Fuck the war” – and Ivanov nodded.

The case of the Moskalyov family in the city of Yefremov, around 300 kilometers south of Moscow, has recently occupied courts and authorities. First, in art class, Maria drew a picture in which she advocated an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The consequence was not only that the headmistress called the police, but also that Maria’s father Alexej was targeted by the investigators. It was noticeable that he, too, had repeatedly criticized the Russian war in Ukraine and the Russian military on social media.

First, Alexej was separated from Maria, he was placed under house arrest and she was placed in a children’s home. A short time later he was sentenced to two years in prison. Alexei Moskalyov fled from house arrest before the verdict was announced, but was then arrested in Minsk, Belarus, at the end of March. A few days ago, the Ministry of Interior of Belarus announced that he would be extradited to Russia. Maria has now been picked up by her mother from the children’s home, but the 13-year-old initially refused.

Since the invasion began, Russia has ramped up its crackdown on opposition figures and those critical of the country’s politics. In particular, denigration of the military or the invasion of Ukraine – which in Russia is still called “military special operations” – are punishable. In some cases, people who allegedly break the law face severe prison sentences.

The punk band “Naive” is one of the best known and most successful of its genre in Russia. They are also the first punk band in their country to release an album in the United States. The band did not receive an exit permit in the late 80s and early 90s due to their critical and anti-communist attitude. The musicians were later allowed to emigrate, and the members then lived in the USA for a while. At the beginning of April, concerts on their anniversary tour in Russia were canceled. The reason given was the “denunciation of deputies of the State Duma”. On Saturday in Moscow, however, “Naive” were allowed to perform, and frontman Alexander Ivanov was able to convey the message that was so important to him to the fans.