Russian security services on Monday have been accused of staging a Ukrainian assassination attempt by releasing photos of confiscated copies of “The Sims” video games that some speculate were mistaken by Kremlin officers for SIM cards.
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation released the bizarre photos Monday and announced that police had arrested six neo-Nazis plotting to kill Russian TV Host Vladimir Solovyov in Moscow.
The Russian federal police (FSB) claimed to recover “an improvised explosive device, eight improvised incendiary devices of the Molotov cocktail type, six PM pistols, a sawn-off hunting rifle, an RGD-5 grenade, more than a thousand cartridges of various calibers, drugs, [and] fake Ukrainian passports” from the would-be assassins, as well as “nationalist literature and paraphernalia.”
The plot to kill him with a car bomb, according to the FSB, was supposedly cooked up in coordination with the Ukrainian security services.
Photos released from the apparent scene of the arrest, however, gave the impression of a poorly staged false-flag.
One photo shows a crisp red t-shirt with a swastika on it, inexplicably laid out next to three copies of the video game “The Sims 3.”
“Who knew they were so into The Sims 3?” BBC journalist Francis Scarr asked dryly on twitter.
“Somebody from the top most likely wrote: “3 симки” (“three SIM cards”), and some genius obeyed,” someone responded.
Eliot Higgins, the founder of investigative research group Bellingcat — which has focused in recent years on Russian intelligence and military operations — agreed.
“I genuinely believe this is a dumb FSB officer being told to get 3 SIMs,” he tweeted.
Another video distributed by Russian state news agency RIA showed an inscription in an unidentified book supposedly recovered in the arrest — signed in Russian with the words “illegible signature.”
Solovyov, who hosts a show on Russian state TV’s channel 1, is widely regarded in the West as a Kremlin propagandist. He made headlines last week after framing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a war against all of Europe in which Russia will show “no mercy.”