A full interview with the suspected mastermind behind the sinister "Blue Whale" game, Filipp Budeikin, has emerged online. The interview surfaced amid growing concern that the "suicide challenge" has spread to other countries – including the UK – and new social platforms, such as Instagram.
Allegedly recorded days prior to his arrest on 15 November 2016 in connection to social media "death groups", the interview contains a number of chilling quotes and several revelations about the Black Mirror-esque challenge that has been linked to the suicide of numerous tween girls in Russia.
Local media in the region report that Budeikin is currently being held and investigated in a Moscow jail cell pending a full criminal trial. He stands accused of acting as a key administrator for deadly 50-day challenges under the pseudonyms 'Filipp Lis' and 'Fox'.
Update: The BBC has reported that Budeikin pleaded guilty to charges of inciting suicide during a court hearing on 11 May.
The Blue Whale game, also known as "F57" on Russia's social networking website VKontakte (VK), subjects its "players" to increasingly horrific orders over the course of the challenge. The final day participants are told to "win" by taking their own lives.
The interview's authenticity remains unverified at the time of writing, however there are a number of lines within the full transcript that could reveal the origin and intent behind the sadistic challenges.
"There are people – and there is biological waste," Budeikin allegedly told St. Peterburg.ru. "[The latter] are the ones who have no value and will only do harm to society... I thought through the concept of the project, specific levels and stages. It was necessary to separate the normal from biological waste."
Budeikin's words also suggest that "F57" is a combination of his first initial ("F") and the last two digits of his telephone number ("57"). He also reportedly states that only 17 unnamed people were lured into his 'suicide challenge', but that "they died happy," claiming: "I gave them what they did not have in real life: warmth, understanding, and communication."
Despite the worry both in Russia and in other countries over Blue Whale/F57, at present there are only unconfirmed reports of Blue Whale deaths and there is no firm evidence of its presence in the UK at this time. Widespread reports of up to 130 teenagers having been impacted by social media suicide games have been disputed due to the lack of conclusive evidence.
Love letters, petitions and cartoons
The confusion over the legitimacy of such games, as well as the aforementioned interview, has led to some social media users contributing to hashtags calling for Budeikin to be released. IBTimes UK discovered that a hashtag which roughly translates to "Free Lis" or "Freedom for Lisu" is linked to posts on VK and Twitter alongside images of Budeikin, with some placing cartoon fox ears and tails over the photos to represent his 'Fox' alias.
According to the Daily Mirror, the support for Budeikin has grown to the point where he has been receiving love letters from infatuated teenage girls delivered directly to him inside his jail cell. We also found a Change.org petition titled "Release [Filipp Budeikin] from arrest!" with 489 signatures.
As well as this pouring of support, there are also a number of Russian social groups – primarily established on VK – committed to finding and reporting communities that appear to engage in Blue Whale-type games.
These campaigns contain screenshots of other groups it has targeted, with several posts containing imagery of bodily harm and mutilation. One of the campaigns boasts over 2,000 people and encourages its members to report the "death groups" to VK via one of the site's support forms.
For its part, VK has been blocking communities for "publishing content that justifies suicide". Attempting to access groups mentioned by anti-suicide game campaigners brings up the following message: