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Russia's VKontakte social network user detained over persuading kids to commit suicide

Investigators say the suspects established eight groups on the VKontakte social network to promote suicidal behavior and drive underage users to commit suicide
Filipp Budeikin Peter Kovalev/TASS
Filipp Budeikin
© Peter Kovalev/TASS

MOSCOW, November 15. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced the arrest of an administrator of a group in the VKontakte social network, instigating children to commit suicide.

Spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC) Svetlana Petrenko told TASS that "in May 2016, St. Petersburg investigators reviewed some media reports on closed groups in one of Russia’s popular social networks, that had been allegedly goading kids to commit suicide." After conducting a probe, a criminal case on charges of instigating suicide was launched.

According to the investigators, from December 2013 to May 2016, the perpetrators established eight virtual groups on the VKontakte social network to promote suicidal behavior and drive underage users to commit suicide. The investigators found out that access to these groups had been limited with membership provided by the administrator.

New members had to undergo various death and suicide related tests to improve their rating. As a result, kids who became new group members, became on-line players in an ominously enticing game that ended with them finding themselves in a psychological trap. Death was promoted as the only right way to solve difficult life situations while such immutable human values as family, friends and education were castigated.

St. Petersburg investigators established 15 related cases of child suicide in various Russian regions involving underage children, members of the so-called "death groups". Searches are currently being conducted in 10 Russian regions.

"We have been taking all necessary measures, aimed, first and foremost, at preventing such crimes. The Investigative Committee has set up an inter-agency working group on preventing the spread of information encouraging suicidal behavior on the Internet," the IC spokesperson noted.

The social network administration failed to block the group and prevent the group’s administration from exchanging messages with the users, Petrenko stressed. She told TASS that the Investigative Committee would apply for the arrest of the ‘death group’ admin, a 21-year old resident of the Moscow region named Filipp Budeikin (known in the Internet as Filipp the Fox). 0bea/pa.