The Russian secret service, the FSB, claims to have taken down a “Ukrainian terrorist cell” in the western Voronezh region. But upon examining the evidence provided by the security service, the Russian newspaper Moscow Times discovered that the terrorists were actually cosplayers, roleplaying the popular video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.
The FSB claims to have taken down three Ukrainian nationalists and points toward a flag with a green wolf, a notebook, and the name the ‘Svobodova Group’ as evidence. It says that the cell is linked to the Ukrainian political party Volia.
But the Svobodova Group, or the Freedom Group, is one of the playable factions in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R franchise. Further examination of the social media of the three men learns that they are airsoft players engaged in cosplay. Most notably, cosplaying the S.T.A.L.K.E.R universe.
Furthermore, Volia has no association with the green wolf flag.
According to the FSB, the cosplayers opened fire, which caused retaliation and resulted in the three men passing away. In a video released by the FSB, a pistol is shown, but it is impossible to determine if it’s real or an airsoft gun.
According to the Moscow Times, the three men did, however, have sympathy for Ukraine, and supported Russian opposition candidate Aleksej Navalny.
The Moscow Times is regarded as an independent Russian newspaper, with its offices located in the Netherlands since the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Killed cosplayers not the first gaming slipup for the FSB
While the actual circumstances around the cosplayers remain vague, it wouldn’t be the first time the FSB made a gaming-related mistake.
In April, it claimed to have foiled an association attempt on TV host Vladimir Solovyov.
Pictures provided by the FSB seemed to include everything you’d expect from a terrorist group: weapons, false passports, and ammunition. But it also included three copies of ‘The Sims 3’.
The weird detail left people wondering whether the FSB had made a mistake when planting evidence, with Eliot Higgins, a researcher for Bellingcat, saying, “I genuinely believe this is a dumb FSB officer being told to get 3 SIMs.”