Russian 'Minecraft bomb plot' teen jailed for five years

Military court sends 16-year-old and his pals down for homemade terror training

Three teens who allegedly plotted to blow up a government building in a video game were this month sentenced for terrorism – with one sent to a penal colony for five years.

The building in question is the Federal Security Services (FSB) facility, or at least the virtual version of it in Minecraft. The FSB houses the country's security agency and main successor to the KGB.

The trio – Nikita Uvarov, Denis Mikhailenko, and Bogdan Andreyev, from Kansk in Siberia – were picked up in June 2020 when they were just 14 years old after they hung political leaflets on the actual FSB building, according to the Moscow Times.

The leaflets called the agency a terrorist organisation and praised an anarchist mathematician who went to prison for six years for hooliganism when he allegedly broke a window on the same building and chucked a smoke bomb inside.

Once the authorities had nabbed the boys, officials searched their phones where they allegedly found home videos of pyrotechnic play involving Molotov cocktails alongside evidence the kids plotted to blow up the virtual Minecraft version of the FSB. It was also claimed the boys planned to test homemade explosives in derelict buildings.

Though the indictment against the teens reportedly did not mention the video game, they were dubbed the Minecraft plotters by the media.

The trio was specifically accused of violating Article 205.3 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation, which outlaws the act of undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities, a crime that can earn someone up to 20 years behind bars. They also allegedly broke Article 205.4, which forbids one from being in a terrorist community.

The terror community charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence, and replaced with charges of unlawful manufacture and storage of explosives.

Mikhailenko and Andreyev pleaded guilty, while Uvarov protested his innocence. On Thursday, the 1st Eastern Military Court in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region found them all guilty, issuing Mikhailenko and Andreyev three and four-year sentences, and 16-year-old Uvarov five years in a penal colony.

In addition to a harsher sentence, Uvarov was kept in a pre-trial detention center while the other two were placed under house arrest.

"I didn't even know or think about the fact that pasted leaflets would lead to such incredible consequences," said Uvarov in his final statement to the court, adding: "I am not a terrorist, I am not guilty in 205.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation."

Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, immensely popular with children, and has over 140 million active users. Players roam the 3D virtual world mining blocks to build structures ranging from huts to the Eiffel Tower or FSB, and at times blowing them up. ®

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