22-year-old Philipp Budeikin, the man behind the Blue Whale online suicide “game”, has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison for inciting two teenage girls to kill themselves.
Mr Budeikin, also known online as Philipp Lis (Fox), was sentenced on Tuesday by a court in the Siberian city of Tyumen.
According to a report by The Moscow Times, Mr Budeikin pleaded guilty to provoking the suicides of 15 teenagers in various regions of Russia in May 2017, but his trial saw investigators link him with just two cases. The two girls in question were aged 16 and 17, and hailed from Chișinău (Moldova) and Ryazan (Russia). Investigators noted that Mr Budeikin had previously dubbed victims of the challenges “biological waste” and claimed he was “cleansing society”.
While his sentence represents the first conviction linked to a social media suicide group registered in Russia, critics are shocked by the leniency of the relatively short three-year jail sentence, to be served in an open prison.
In May 2017, the Russian Duma (parliament) passed a bill introducing criminal responsibility for creating pro-suicide groups on social media. In May last year, Russian daily Novaya Gazeta reported that around 130 teenagers had committed suicide between November 2015 and April 2016 as a result of certain social network groups, most notably the Blue Whale online challenge. This game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators during a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide.
Source: The Moscow Times