Teenagers Convicted Of Terrorism After Plotting To Blow Up Minecraft Building

By Michileen Martin | 3 months ago

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In Russia, you better watch out what you do in Minecraft. You might be able to build whatever you want, but trying to take it down is a different matter entirely. Last Thursday, a court in Russia sentenced three Siberian teenagers for supposed terrorism. One of the terrorist activities they’re accused of is plotting to blow up a virtual recreation of a Federal Security Services (FSB) building in the Minecraft.

The Moscow Times reports that Nikita Uvarov, Denis Mikhailenko and Bogdan Andreyev were originally arrested in 2020 — when all three teens were 14-years-old — for putting up pamphlets in support of Azat Miftakhov, a self-described anarchist. The leaflets included slogans like “the FSB is the main terrorist.” Upon arrest, the teens’ phones were examined. Authorities found videos of the three making unspecified “pyrotechnics.” There were also videos of them throwing Molotov cocktails against walls, and of the teens plotting to blow up a virtual FSB building they had created in Minecraft.

Last Thursday, the Eastern Military Court in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia found all three teens guilty of “training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities” — meaning planning to destroy (but, apparently not actually destroying) a virtual building in Minecraft is potentially a crime in Russia. Denis Mikhailenko and Bogdan Andreyev were given three and four year suspended sentences. Nikita Uvarov, on the other hand, was handed a 5-year sentence in a penal colony.

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Judging by the different sentences, Uvarov seems to have been more heavily penalized because he refused to admit his guilt. Mikhailenko and Andreyev both pled guilty, while Uvarov maintained his innocence and claimed he was subjected to “mental and physical pressure” to confess. The Minecraft playing teen claims the construction of pyrotechnics and Molotov cocktails was all in the pursuit of “learning something new.” Addressing the court on Thursday, Uvarov said, “I am not a terrorist, I am not guilty… I would just like to finish my studies, get an education and go somewhere far away from here, somewhere I don’t irritate anyone from the special services.”

Azat Miftakhov — the anarchist and mathematician the three teens were allegedly posting leaflets in support of — was sentenced to six years in a penal colony last year on charges of “hooliganism.” Specifically, Miftakhov was accused not of throwing a smoke bomb through the office window of United Russia — Russia’s ruling political party — but of handing the smoke bomb to the person who allegedly threw it. Miftakhov denied the charges but authorities claimed an informant identified the anarchist by his “expressive eyebrows.” The clandestine eyebrow-whisperer apparently died of cardiac arrest before they could verify the reports in court.

As ridiculous as it sounds to convict someone of, among other things, planning to blow up a building in Minecraft, this may not be the first or last time the LEGO-like world has something to do with actual buildings potentially being destroyed. Last March, it was reported that Microsoft was selling “three Bethesdas worth” — i.e. $22 billion — of Augmented Reality goggles to the United States Army, from the same family of technology that creates the virtual world of Minecraft.