Russia convicts teens for plan to explode Minecraft FSB Building

The conviction is reflective of a wider pattern in Russia that sees teenagers targeted by security forces to quash dissent.

 The Lubyanka building (former KGB headquarters) in Moscow. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Lubyanka building (former KGB headquarters) in Moscow.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Three Russian teenagers were convicted of terrorism charges last Thursday for, among other crimes, planning on blowing up a replica of the Federal Security Services (FSB) building created in Minecraft, according to Russian media outlets.

The three teenagers, all of whom hailed from Kansk in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, were arrested in 2020 when they were all at the age of 14 for distributing fliers on their local FSB office against the agency and voicing support for anarchist Azat Miftakhov, according to The Moscow Times.

At the time, Russian media reports called them "anarchists" and referenced them reading banned literature, watching video tutorials on crafting explosives and reportedly trained to commit terrorism in abandoned areas.

Later, the FSB searched the phones of the teenagers and allegedly found videos of them making explosives, throwing Molotov cocktails and a plot to blow up a Minecraft version of the FSB building.

Minecraft is the most popular video game in the world and allows players to explore a vast open-world where they can mine and build structures as far as their imagination will let them, with few limits.

Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity rebuilt in Minecraft (credit: BTE ISRAEL & THE WEST BANK / SIMPLEX MAPPING LTD)Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity rebuilt in Minecraft (credit: BTE ISRAEL & THE WEST BANK / SIMPLEX MAPPING LTD)

This, naturally, includes the possibility for a full reconstruction of the FSB Building.

According to Russian outlet Baza, the three teenagers said building and blowing up the FSB Building in Minecraft was meant to be a joke. However, evidently, Russian law enforcement was far from amused.

The teenagers arrested were identified as Nikita Uvarov, Denis Mikhailenko and Bogdan Andreyev. Ultimately, they were only charged with training to conduct terrorist activities, a crime that could have seen them face up to 20 years in prison, according to RadioFreeEurope.

The latter two had already pleaded guilty and received suspended sentences of three and four years respectively, while Uvarov was sentenced to five years in a penal colony, according to The Moscow Times.

According to Russian outlet Baza, Mihailenko and Andreyev only confessed under duress. 

In a statement in court, documented by Russian outlet ngs24, Uvarov said he never thought that hanging up flyers "would lead to such incredible consequences."

“I am not a terrorist, I am not guilty,” Uvarov said in his closing statement in court, as noted by The Moscow Times.

“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.”

According to activists, the conviction is reflective of a wider pattern in Russia that sees teenagers targeted by security forces. According to human rights groups, the plan is to make younger Russians with critical views of the government afraid to dissent.