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A 16-year-old Russian boy has been sentenced to five years in prison for reportedly planning to blow up a virtual building on Minecraft.
The boy's offence falls under President Vladimir Putin's controversial ruling with regards to pre-emptive terrorism charges.
Nikita Uvarov was sentenced by a military court in Siberia and will be behind the bars of a penal colony on charges of 'training for terrorist activities', according to lawyer Pavel Chikov.
Chikov claims that two other defendants were cleared on criminal charged and were handed suspended sentences due to co-operating with officials.
Uvarov and two others were detained back in the summer of 2020 for handing out leaflets in support of a Moscow mathematician and anarchist activist who was on trial for vandalism, The Guardian reports.
They opted to put a leaflet on a local building of Russia’s domestic security agency and successor of the Soviet-era KGB - FSB.
After police took their phones for investigation, they reportedly found messages about plans to blow up an FSB building they had digitally created on Minecraft.
Investigators say the teenagers were also learning to make improvised explosive devices and practised detonating them in abandoned buildings.
Charges of 'participating in a terrorist organisation' were initially brought against the teenagers, however, they were soon dropped due to insufficient evidence.
The Novaya Gazeta newspaper reports that Uvarov spoke about pressure from authorities and denied any plans to blow up a building.
The teenager pleaded not guilty and, if given prison time, he said he would serve it 'with a clear conscience and dignity'.
“For the last time in this court I want to say: I am not a terrorist,” he said.
There has been a build-up of Russian troops on the border over recent weeks, fuelling the fears that an invasion could be imminent.
The officials - who agreed to divulge details of the latest government assessment on condition of anonymity - said Russia has almost three quarters of the forces it likely plans to have in place by mid-month.
Speaking on Saturday 5 February, the officials said the number of battalion tactical groups in the border region has risen to 83 from 60 over the past two weeks.
As for the timing of a potential invasion, the officials said the ground is expected to reach peek freeze on 15 February, which would enable heavier machinery to be mobilised off-road. These conditions will last until the end of March.
Reuters said the officials did not provide supporting evidence for the assessments.