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10 Feb, 2022 15:56

Russian teen sentenced to 5 years in prison for 'Minecraft'-linked terrorism

Nikita Uvarov planned to blow up a security service building after practising on video game
Russian teen sentenced to 5 years in prison for 'Minecraft'-linked terrorism

A Russian teenager has been sentenced to five years in prison after planning to blow up a local headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and first practicing on a video game.

According to the Investigative Committee, 16-year-old student Nikita Uvarov planned to destroy the building on Minecraft, a popular world-building game, and then replicate the measure in real life. Uvarov, who comes from the small Siberian town of Kansk, was sentenced on Thursday morning, and was also told to pay a 30,000 ruble ($400) fine.

The investigators said that the teenager and two of his friends had been learning how to manufacture explosives since 2019, and had practiced throwing Molotov cocktails on abandoned land in Kansk. It was also alleged that they studied extremist literature and watched videos with instructions for making explosives, and successfully made four bombs.

The Eastern District Military Court found Uvarov guilty of charges of terrorism, namely, undergoing training to carry out criminal activity, his lawyer Pavel Chikov announced.

Chikov heads Agora, an organization that represents those who may be victims of suspected human rights abuses by the authorities. The group is classified in Russia as a ‘foreign agent’ due to receiving funding from abroad.

According to the investigators, Uvarov and two other males used the video game to construct the buildings of the Kansk police department and the city’s FSB division, and plotted to virtually blow them up. Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that the teenagers used the gaming world to demonstrate how a real explosion of the buildings would take place.

While being taken into custody following the court decision, Uvarov cried, “I'm a child, I’m not a terrorist,” it was reported. His co-defendants were exempted from criminal liability for “facilitating the investigation.”

Uvarov was first detained back in 2020 along with two school friends, Denis Mikhaylenko and Bogdan Andreev, for crimes committed in their hometown of Kansk, including flyer distribution and the use of fireworks.

Specifically, the trio was arrested for distributing posters backing the release of self-described anarchist and mathematician Azat Miftakhov, one of which appeared on the local FSB building. Miftakhov was arrested in 2019 for allegedly attacking the Moscow offices of the ruling political party United Russia.

After the schoolboys’ detention, law enforcement officers were able to gain access to their online communications and found details of how they would construct virtual buildings. Authorities also uncovered criticisms of the FSB and discussions about anarchism and pyrotechnics. This is also where investigators found plans to blow up buildings in the Minecraft computer game, the Baza Telegram channel reported.