The 14 year old Minecraft-”terrorists” of Russia

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Kansk is a city with a population of 90 000 in Siberia, Russia. The
closest city with a million inhabitants is Krasnoyarsk, 250 kilometers
westwards. Two boys, who turned 15 years old last year, Nikita Uvarov
and Denis Mikhaylenko, have been in jail since last summer, accused of
plotting a terrorist attack. According to the charges, they were, among
other things, planning to build the headquarters of the Russian security
service FSB in Minecraft, and to blow it up there. During the Soviet
Era, the FSB had different names, the last before the disintegration of
the Soviet union being FSB.

Nikita and Denis were arrested after they spread posters demanding the
release of anarchist and mathematician Azat Miftakhov, arrested in
Moscow. One of the posters was posted on the local FSB building in
Kansk. Denis and Nikita were also planning to organize a Food Not
Bombs-event in Kansk, to give food to the homeless.

Nikita and Denis were already arrested in June in 2020, but information
about the case only started being spread in November 2020, when Novaya
Gazeta and online media platform Baza published articles about the
case.This article is mostly based on article by Evgeniya Tamarchenko,
published in The Insider -online media platform, published in January 2021.

Nikita and Denis have known each other since kindergarten. Bogdan
Andreev was also arrested at the same time. He is studying in a parallel
class, and all three became friends with each other during junior high.
Bogdan is currently under house arrest, and is not allowed to use phone
or Internet.

All three are charged with ”Studying in order to carry out a terrorist
attack”, and ”Membership and founding of a terrorist organization”.
Besides playing Minecraft and putting up posters, the three were
preparing small fireworks and discussing means to struggle against the
current regime in Russia. With these charges, adults would spend in
prison at least 15 years, up to a jail sentence. Because Denis, Nikita
and Bogdan are underage, maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

Investigators were tactically lying and manipulating Denis and Bogdan in
order for to get them to admit to preparing a terrorist attack, for
example by promising that they would not be charged with a terrorist
attack if they confessed the charges. This promise was of course broken.
Nikita did not confess to anything, but he also does not accuse Denis
and Bogdan. Nikita believes, that main responsibility is on the
investigators, who manipulated Denis and Bogdan to give a testimony
against him.

In Russia, the lower limit for criminal responsibility is 14 years old.
In the Krasnoyarsk region, the FSB has arrested several 14 year olds in
the year soon after their birthdays. They have often been followed for
months before imprisonment. In two cases, children had discussed high
school shootings. The Kansk case is different from those interested of
school shootings, as it is related to political activism.

Nikita's mother believes that the arrest of her son is also due to his
teacher's attitude. In October 2019 Nikita's mother was invited to a
school to a discussion, where she was told that Nikita is interested in
anarchism, and is watching a TV series about anarchist Cossack Nestor
Makhno. The teacher mentioned that ”perhaps they are preparing a
terrorist attack" and "we must get this under control”. Back then,
Nikita was just laughing at the discussion.

At the request of prosecutor, Nikita's teacher, Sofia Polychuk wrote a
negative personal statement about Nikita's character, which was used as
a basis for his remand. The school's social worker would have written a
positive characterization about Nikita, but she was banned by the
principal. The remand decision cites that ”according to the school's
principal, Nikita considers school a hostile environment, he does not
react adequately to his teachers' instructions, does not develop mutual
understanding, refuses to follow the norms and rules of society.”
According to Nikita's lawyer, school workers may be key witnesses on the
side of the prosecution in the upcoming court case.

According to Nikita's mother, conflicts at school started approximately
one year before the arrest. Teachers could not accept that eighth
graders would have their own opinions. For example, once English teacher
asked the class which is the highest building in the world, Nikita
answered that it is Burj Khalifa in Dubai (which is correct answer). The
teacher did not accept the answer, Nikita attempted to prove his point,
but the teacher just shut him up.

The arrest of oppositional figurehead Alexei Navalny has gained lots of
attention abroad, but there are hundreds of political prisoners in
Russia, and they are getting younger and younger. Less known political
prisoners also need support, and currently there is a support campaign
being organized for the Minecraft-prisoners of Kansk.

The support campaign website kanskdelo.com currently only has pdates in
Russian, but in the the future it will also host materials in English.

Antti Rautiainen

You can write to Nikita and Denis in prison, but in remand imprisonment,
there is heavy censorship, and it is better to avoid overtly political
themes. Letters must be in Russian, but with Google translate it is
often possible to make understandable translations. In case you do not
trust machine translations, you can send for example photographs or
drawings.

Uvarov Nikita Andreevich, 2005 g.r. SIZO-5 ul. Kaytymskaya 122, g. Kansk
663600 Krasnoyarskiy Kray Russia

Mikhaylenko Denis Sergeevich 2005 g.r. SIZO-5 ul. Kaytymskaya 122, g.
Kansk 663600 Krasnoyarskiy Kray Russia

You may also donate for the prisoners via Paypal of ABC Moscow,
abc-msk@riseup.net. If you want to donate to Nikita and Denis via this
paypal, it is obligatory to include message “for Minecraft case”.
Otherwise it is impossible to know purpose of your donation.

List of prisoners supported by ABC Moscow in Russia:
https://wiki.avtonom.org/en/index.php/Category:Currently_imprisoned_in_Russia

Source:
https://avtonom.org/en/author_columns/14-year-old-minecraft-terrorists-russia

Posted By

S2W
Mar 5 2021 08:49

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