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Teen Jailed for Plotting to Bomb a Government Building in Minecraft

Boy, 16, sentenced to five years for alleged plan to target FSB building created in computer game

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MOSCOW – A Russian teenager has been sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly plotting to bomb a virtual FSB security service building in the video game Minecraft.

The verdict fits into a larger pattern under President Vladimir Putin of imprisoning young Russians on dubious and preemptive terrorism charges.

Nikita Uvarov, 16, was sentenced to five years in a penal colony by a military court in Siberia on charges of “training for terrorist actions,” according to rights lawyer Pavel Chikov on the messaging site Telegram.

Chikov stated that two other offenders were absolved of criminal charges and given suspended sentences because they cooperated with investigators.

The hearing took place behind closed doors.

Uvarov and two other teenagers were imprisoned in the summer of 2020 in the Siberian city of Kansk for distributing leaflets in support of a Moscow mathematician and anarchist activist on trial for vandalism.

They posted one of the leaflets on a nearby FSB building, Russia’s formidable domestic security agency and the Soviet-era KGB’s successor.

Police said they found a conversation on their phones regarding plans to blow up an FSB building that they had made in the popular block-building game Minecraft.

Investigators said the teens were also learning how to create improvised explosive devices and practicing detonating them in abandoned locations.

The teenagers initially faced more severe charges of “participating in a terrorist organisation”, but these were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Uvarov spoke about pressure from officials during the inquiry in his final comments in court, as reported by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, and denied any plans to blow up anything.

He pled not guilty and stated that if he was sentenced to prison, he would do so “with a clear conscience and dignity.”

“For the last time in this court I want to say: I am not a terrorist,” he stated.

It is not the first time that young Russians have been sentenced to prison for terrorism-related offenses in recent years. Three teenage activists, accused of belonging to an anarchist group named “New Greatness,” were sentenced to prison in August 2020 for allegedly preparing to destroy Putin’s regime. Four others were sentenced to suspended sentences in an FSB-initiated prosecution that advocates called fraudulent.

Seven teenage anarchists and anti-fascists were convicted to six to 18 years in jail on terror and other counts in February 2020. Arrested in 2017 and 2018, the majority of the guys said they were tortured in detention using electrodes and assaulted in order to obtain a confession.

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