The Russian Federation’s Supreme Court has upheld a sentence of five years imprisonment for Nikita Uvarov, a teenager who plotted to blow up the HQ of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Which he and his friends would first construct themselves in the open-world sandbox game Minecraft.
There is a well-known Russian saying that goes “You cannot comprehend Russia by employing reason”.
It is indeed hard to comprehend that the Russian Federation’s Supreme Court would uphold a sentence originally issued by First Eastern District Military Court in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, which sentenced the then-16-year-old to imprisonment.
What was the nature of the crimes committed by Uvarov and his two co-conspirators of the same age?
The three were originally arrested in 2020, at the tender age of 14, while distributing leaflets to support Azat Miftakhov, a mathematician, who was in custody on politically motivated charges and sentenced in 2021 to six years. The leaflets had also included slogans reading “The [Russian] state is the primary terrorist”.
The investigators had confiscated their phones, where they found correspondences showing the boys had criticised the FSB and were discussing reading, what the FSB termed, “banned books”.
But that was not all.
According to the bloodhounds at the Russian Federal Security Service, between October 2019 and June 2020, the three teenagers had “united into a group for the subsequent joint implementation of terrorist activities”. They were also further charged with “training in order to carry out terrorist activities”.
Specifically, they had organised an underground terrorist cell planning to undermine the Russian authorities by blowing up the FSB HQ.
And this they would first have to build themselves… In Minecraft. An open-world, sandbox, online video game, which in broad strokes literally amounts to about digging holes in the ground and building and wrecking stuff up. Yes, all in virtual reality.
And as for “training in order to carry out terrorist activities”: the charge was based on them having fun, as teenagers do, setting off firecrackers in abandoned buildings.
The FSB is the successor to the infamous KGB. In the KGB one of the requirements to serve had been “a cool head and a warm heart”.
Hence we can here conclude the requirements to serve in the FSB are to be brainless and heartless.
Bear in mind, this all started two years ago, in 2020, before Russia invaded Ukraine and the Kremlin had then said that anyone who calls the war in Ukraine anything else other than a “special military operation”, will be spreading disinformation about Russian Federation’s military and would be liable to spend up to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors had sought nine years in prison for Uvarov and six years in prison for the other defendants. His “co-conspirators” plead guilty and received three and four years of probation each.
Uvarov refused to co-operate or plead guilty. He spent 11 months in pretrial detention before he was temporarily released to finish ninth grade at school.
In his final statement at the trial on February 9, Uvarov again rejected the charges and added that if he is imprisoned, he “will serve the sentence with a clean conscience and dignity.”
“It was painful for me to see how my country oppresses people, civil rights activists, who want the best for the country and stand for its well-being. Now, unfortunately, I am experiencing myself the despotism of the unfair collaborators of the system,” Uvarov then said.
He was sentenced to five years.
In May, the military court of appeal upheld the sentence, while the prosecutor argued for Uvarov’s sentence to be increased to nine years. In July, he was sent to an educational colony after 16 months in a pre-trial detention centre up to that point. The next step will be to send Uvarov to a penal colony for adults. With thieves, murderers, and rapists.
It seems that the time already spent in the Russian penal system has somewhat broken the young man’s spirit. Or at least he learned to say what the authorities want to hear.
“I think five years in prison is too cruel,” Uvarov said when his case made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. “I repented, corrected myself and no longer plan to come into the view of the authorities and break the law.”
In Russia, 16-year-old Nikita Uvarov, who wanted to blow up the FSB building in Minecraft, was sentenced to 5 years in prison.— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) January 17, 2023
"I am not dangerous to society. 5 years of imprisonment is too cruel. I have already repented," Nikita said in court.
Now the FSB can sleep peacefully. pic.twitter.com/3o6yO79OE4
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Too late for that, Nikita. Now, Mother Russia will hold you in prison until your sentence runs out or until you decide that your only way out is to join Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries in exchange for parole after six months on the frontline in Ukraine for survivors.
And when you think about the lot that befell the young man, other than focusing on the “heinous crimes” he was sentenced for, take look at the greater picture, and consider the effort, time, and resources, that the Russian state apparatus put into locking up a teen on those charges.
But do not dwell on it too long unnecessarily, because as we had already established at the outset, you cannot endeavour to comprehend Russia by employing reason.