Russian security services have been accused of ineptly staging a Ukrainian neo-Nazi plot to assassinate a pro-Kremlin journalist.
Observers believe that agents planting evidence somehow confused three mobile-phone SIM cards for the video game “The Sims 3”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had said on Monday: "This morning, the Federal Security Service [FSB] stopped the activities of a terrorist group that planned to attack and kill one famous Russian TV journalist."
The Investigative Committee of Russia claimed to have arrested six people suspected of a plot to assassinate pro-Kremlin TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov, in a joint raid with the FSB – the main successor agency to the KGB.
The FSB released images from the raid showing neo-Nazi paraphenalia including a photo of Adolf Hitler and an SS “Totenkopf” patch. The images also included drugs, fake Ukrainian passports and, bizarrely, three copies of video game “The Sims 3”.
Online observers commented on this weird detail and speculated that an agent had been told to plant three mobile-phone SIM cards and got confused.
Francis Scarr, a journalist with the BBC’s Monitoring service joked, “Who knew that they were so into The Sims 3?”
Eliot Higgins, founder of open-source investigative agency Bellingcat, said, “I genuinely believe this is a dumb FSB officer being told to get 3 SIMs.”
On his show on Russian state TV on Monday, Solovyov claimed that Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelesnkyy has a “complex” because he once tried to audition for a show on TV channel Rossiya 1 but wasn’t talented enough.
Russian propaganda used to justify the invasion of Ukraine has massively overstated the presence of neo-Nazis in the country, with Putin initially claiming he want to “de-Nazify” Ukraine as a reason for his war of aggression.