back to article Russian 'Minecraft bomb plot' teen jailed for five years

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 …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Will they be in a real prison

    or one in Minecraft ?

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Will they be in a real prison

      This could be the end of the world.......of Warcraft.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Will they be in a real prison

        One could only hope so?

      2. Jedit Silver badge
        Joke

        "This could be the end of the world.......of Warcraft."

        Look, just because the Maw is ruled by a merciless bald tyrant who goes around with his shirt off and who plans to conquer the world doesn't mean you can compare it to Russia.

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    I'd like to say....

    ...this is could never happen in the UK, but historical events tell me otherwise.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: I'd like to say....

      Yeah, the UK also tends to take a dim view of someone manufacturing and storing explosives to blow up even derelict buildings without the appropriate permits.

      Personally, I'd be quite delighted to know that my neighboring flats aren't chock full of explosives, as explosives tend to make really, really rude noise.

      Or was the part "...due to a lack of evidence, and replaced with charges of unlawful manufacture and storage of explosives." missed by most?

      Because, I only advocate for the home manufacture and storage of whisperglycerin.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd like to say....

        Or was the part "...due to a lack of evidence, and replaced with charges of unlawful manufacture and storage of explosives." missed by most?

        The honesty of the FSB should never be questioned.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd like to say....

        I used to make bombs and explosives for fun as a kid.

        All the info needed was easily available from the school library.

        It became quite a fashion to do that stuff.

        Richard Feynman used to do the same sort of stuff, as well as picking safes and all sorts of fun.

        It didn't do him or anyone else any harm.

        Now in the f..cked up Russian Federation you can get prison for blowing up something virtual and doing what boys will always do!

        Pathetic!

        And Putin is a well known murderer with plenty of real blood on his hands.

        1. Ghostman

          Re: I'd like to say....

          Here in the southern USA, we learned to make firearms from bike parts, matches, charcoal, and a lighter.

          You could make ones that fired anything from a BB to a 410 shotshell, all from stuff sitting around most houses.Of course, at the same time we were being bombarded with news of how China would over run us with waves of soldiers and Russia would try to bomb us into submission.

          All our parents were WWII era, so they felt the instruction was the old motto of "Be Prepared".

  3. Def Silver badge
    Mushroom

    So...

    where can my friend get a copy of this Minecraft of which you speak?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Comes free with Raspbian for the Pis. Interestingly it also comes with easily available instructions on how to make a bit block of TNT in Python and how to blow it up!.

  4. imanidiot Silver badge

    ISTR from other articles these kids were doing a lot more than just blowing up virtual buildings and "playing" with molotov cocktails. They were also building pipe bombs and talking about using those in the real world. Not exactly "kids jailed for blowing up FSB headquarters in Minecraft". They'd be getting jail time in "the west" too probably. Now whether or not a couple of 14 year olds deserve 4 to 5 years of hard labour in a Russian Gulag is a whole different debate.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I knew people when I was that age who would make home-made explosives, pipe bombs and such. It's stupid, and it's dangerous, and looking back at it, it's remarkable that they didn't lose any body parts, but if this tells us anything, it's that 14 year-old boys are idiots, and some of them have a destructive impulse. Going from that to "try them as adults and put them in a gulag" is ridiculous, especially when they didn't actually blow anything up.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        I don't know enough of the finer details of the case to decide on just how ridiculous it is, but I am just slightly annoyed at the tendency for most news agencies here to frame it only in the "Russian boys tried as adults and send to hard labour for blowing up minecraft building" in what seems like an attempt to shout "See, Russia BAD!". When the reality is more like "Russian boys given extremely harsh sentences for doing dangerous and stupid things with explosives and talking about blowing up the FSB headquarters", because apparently they did talked about doing so in a way that made it highly dubious they meant only in Minecraft. That's a very different (but much more valid) headline. And criticism on the harshness on the sentence is probably valid (but again, I don't know the exact details of how far they went, only broad strokes pieced together from a whole load of different sources. I'd go to Russian media, but I don't speak nor read Russian)

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          > I'd go to Russian media, but I don't speak nor read Russian

          If your browser has https://duckduckgo.com set as its default search engine (recommended!) , just put "!gt " in front of the URL. That'll flip it to google translate nice&easy.

      2. Philip Stott

        Guilty as charged

        I was that dumb kid, started out with black powder, then nitrating everything I could find with nitric acid (gun cotton, TNT), thermite, ammonium nitrate & sugar, sulphur & red phosphorus. Its crazy that it was possible to buy that stuff easily. Especially because it was around the time of The Troubles in Ireland.

        As you say, it's amazing that we didn't blow ourselves up (although came fairly close more than once).

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Guilty as charged

          My Grandad had a box of gunpowder and a small cannon. Over the years I was taught a lot about how to do things safely and we regularly blew things up and made (very) loud noises. Indeed my Prof Dad and several other uni mad scientists frequently joined in the mayhem.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Guilty as charged

          A few weeks ago, in the UK, a 14 year old was jailed for downloading a copy of "the anarchists cookbook". I don'y know the details of the case, but 30 years ago, in the golden age of the internet, every geek who knew how to Archie and FTP had that file, along with "the big book of mischief" and various other interesting texts. Just because it was interesting to read these things. But it's a different world now, one where creeping censorship is taking over the internet, and "having access to information" is treated much the same as "doing bad stuff with that information."

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Guilty as charged

            I had a copy back in '86. I downloaded it from a BBS to an Apple ][. I remember printing it on green-bar tractor-feed fanfold paper.

            We tried a few things from it. A friend of mine blow up his parents kitchen (thank god he we uninjured in the blast).

            1. balrog

              Re: Guilty as charged

              In 97 I was sacked (well bullied into resigning) by Kingston University for sharing that with a colleague I rather naively imagined a friend. Or at least friendly enough to scan through it and discard it as more of a liability to yourself than others.......

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Guilty as charged

            I didn't have a printed copy, wouldn't have done, and was never a 14-yo idiot. I can't even remember where I didn't get a copy I didn't have from.

            However, the recent case of a 14-yo being imprisoned for having a copy of this, was more down to a case of "what they could get him for". IIRC, he was into all sorts of dodgy far-right extremist shit. It was probably the charge that was easiest to make stick in court. Unlike in the US, where multi-century sentences are commonplace, we tend to go for prosecuting on the most serious charge(s) and treating everything else as not worth the paperwork.

            Sentences are typically served concurrently, not sequentially here as well. Funnily enough, we also don't tend to treat those who have been deprived of their liberty as a free source of slave labour, and consequently don't have both the world's highest prison population, and the world's highest per capita prison population as well.

            "Land of the free," my hairy arse.

            Having said that, there's plenty of politicians here who seem too keen on importing US-style justice, despite it having been proven unequivocally not to work to reduce crime. The mind boggles, eh?

            1. SundogUK Silver badge

              Re: Guilty as charged

              "...proven unequivocally not to work to reduce crime."

              People in prison do not commit crimes against the general public. That will do for me.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Guilty as charged

                People in prison do not commit crimes against the general public.

                Because no "crime lords" ever continued to operate their empires from behind bars.

                The main problem of using imprisonment as the go-to recourse for offenders is that, even for violent crimes, sentences tend to be in the single-digit number of years, and people get released again.

                If you imprison people as punishment, with no aim of rehabilitation, they often come out of prison and go straight back to committing crime. Typically, they make new criminal contacts whilst "inside", what with being locked up 24h a day with others who have committed crimes.

                Criminology is a wide-ranging and complex subject. typically, the aim is to reduce the harm on society that crime poses, and the "lock 'em away" attitude has been shown, time and again, to be counter-productive to this goal. I won't profess to be an expert on the subject by any means, but your statement is both simplistic, and demonstrably wrong.

                Unfortunately, it is the same simplistic attitude that is frequently taken by right-wing politicians, who tend to be led by "common sense" rhetoric, and the need to be seen to be "tough on crime", rather than being led by evidence. I'd dearly love to see some proper evidence-led policy in this area, but take one look at the folk we have in charge, and weep.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Guilty as charged

            A few weeks ago, in the UK, a 14 year old was jailed for downloading a copy of "the anarchists cookbook". I don'y know the details of the case ...

            You've got to at least provide a searchable phrase for a claim like that. Otherwise, I'll just assume your memory has morphed the details ("a 14 year old was jailed for downloading a copy of "the anarchists cookbook").

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Guilty as charged

              The Jolly Rogers Cookbook circulated extremely widely via sneakernet around classrooms all over the country. Good/Bad old days of Amiga.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Learning to blow things up as a teen (or earlier) is a bit of a thing in Eastern Europe, particularly amongst kids with an interest in engineering and chemistry.

        I gave a friend of mine a hand blowing things up back when he was a teen, in part to keep things relatively safe and in part because of the sheer fun of it. We went on to do a few other stupid things over the years. He's an engineer now, other participants were or have become since physicians and lawyers, so towards the end we had all bases covered.

      4. Wzrd1

        Until precursor chemicals, specifically concentrated nitric acid and sulfuric acid became difficult to get, at least once per year we'd be greeted with a news story about some idiot kid trying to make nitroglycerine in their basement or garage and not realizing what an exothermic reaction was or that nitroglycerine is prone to grow very, very angry when above the freezing point of water.

        Once they healed from their injuries, they inevitably were charged with manufacturing explosives and rightfully so.

        Or do you think it'd be cool to have some kid being childish with explosives and blow up your family home in the middle of the night during an "accident"?

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Charges etc

      We've added to the piece more info one what they teens were convicted of. The media has focused on the FSB building bit because it's kinda amusing and also, the boys went and did something to the actual building.

      They were also charged with making and planning to test their homemade explosives in empty buildings, using Pringles cans as containers.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Charges etc

        Still waiting for the justification of the "terrorist" charges. Yeah I know 14 year old boys are basically all terrorists ... but still.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Charges etc

          I was unfortunate enough, in my teens to grow up in the unnatural environment of an all-boys school.

          I can categorically say that all 14 year-old boys are driven by exactly two things; sex (which none of them are getting any of but all like to pretend they are), and setting fire to or blowing things up. This is the natural result of being sexually mature, but not emotionally or mentally so.

          I don't think I was any different to any of the others. The only variation is in the level of stupidity.

  5. Teejay

    Nomen est omen

    I mean, doesn't the name 'Minecraft' basically say it all?

  6. TrevorH

    Thoughtcrime :-(

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Checks calendar, nope, not 1st April

    Perhaps ownership of "Raid Over Moscow", "Megafortress", "Red Storm Rising" or thousands of other games are also illegal because they depict situations where ex Soviet war machines and buildings might get trashed. I may have to revisit Harpoon; for all of it's advanced age, it's still a satisfying RTS from long before RTS was recognised as a thing.

    Pray tell explain how DCS world is legal, and of origins over borders to the East of Poland. A game / sim which definitely depicts the likes of the SU-27 at significant disadvantage against NATO. I had better not go giving the FSB ideas. There are few other good air combat simulations of the last 20 years.

    Sham courts, firewalled internet, political exile/poisoninings/murders, state TV and press. I feel very sorry for the good Russian people that are being dragged down by their ex-KGB dictator.

    Good Russian people have kicked out several successive dictatorships over the last hundred years. We can't fix their problems for them, but they are very, very welcome to come out of the cold.

    1. dafe

      Re: Checks calendar, nope, not 1st April

      First off, Russia today is not the Soviet Union, which hasn't existed for 30 years.

      Second of all, Minecraft is not illegal in Russia. Blowing up government buildings without a licence is. And intent matters in legal matters.

      Third: Do those anti-Soviet games come with instructions for how to build pipe bombs? If so, awesome. And a bit scary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checks calendar, nope, not 1st April

        If you think Russia is not the Soviet Union, you would be correct. But the power vested in it has its origins in the Soviet Union, and the FSB is really not far removed from that machinery of state. Putin's career history is both well known, and not known at all.

        To be blunt, publically, he is a nasty paranoid fucker that along with his cronies are prepared to bully everyone to get what they want. Including kids playing video games. Stamping out political opponents. Poisonings. State media and newspapers. What more tools of oppression do you want? It's more the Soviet Union than the Soviet Union was. Those that remember the events of the late 80s were heavily coordinated by modem Comms. Stamp out Comms routes, stamp out opposition.

        I can only assume the downvoters here are of Russian origin in which case, being outside the great firewall you would think they might learn what the rest of the world thinks of their shenanigans.

        Meh. The world is consigned to its doom at the greed of a few men. Maybe the cockroaches do deserve to inherit it.

  8. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    Upgrade

    I think the FSB may want to invest in some obsidian bricks.

  9. drankinatty

    Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

    The phrase has never been more true today than in the real Russian Federation. Where on earth can three fourteen year old boys be convicted of terrorism for dropping leaflets and plotting to blow up a building in Minecraft? When is being a teenager not just being a teenager? Seems to be more about silencing potential future political opposition than any actual act of terrorism. I suspect Alexei Navalny. would agree.

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