A 16-year-old boy in Russia has reportedly been ‘jailed for five years’ for ‘planning to blow up a virtual building’ on Minecraft.
The conviction falls under President Vladimir Putin’s controversial regime that puts young Russians in jail on preemptive terrorism charges.
Novaya Gazeta newspaper claims that the teenager, Nikita Uvaroc, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to ‘planning to blow a building up’.
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He reportedly said: “For the last time in this court I want to say: I am not a terrorist,” before adding he would serve his prison sentence with ‘a clear conscience and dignity’ if it came to that.
According to The Guardian, the human rights lawyer, Pavel Chikov, claimed on the messaging service telegram that a military court in Siberia sentenced Uvaroc on charges of ‘training for terrorist activities’.
The outlet also stated that two other defendants were cleared of criminal charges in the private hearing.
They were supposedly detained in the summer of 2020 for ‘spreading leaflets in support of an artist who was on trial for vandalism’.
It was then police allegedly took their phones and found an ‘exchange’ about plans to blow up an FSB building they had created on the game.
Investigators argued that the teenagers were also ‘learning how to make improvised explosive devices’ and ‘practised detonating them in abandoned buildings’.
The teenagers initially faced more severe charges of ‘participating in a terrorist organisation,’ but they were reportedly dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Amid the charge, Russia has increased the presence of its troops on the border in recent weeks, fueling fears of an imminent invasion.
Reuters claims the country has 70% of its combat power in place, which it believes it needs for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
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