The man behind a sick ‘suicide game’ Blue Whale aimed at children has been inundated with love letters from teenage girls addressed to him at a Russian jail where he is in custody.
Philipp Budeikin is being held on charges of inciting at least 16 schoolgirls to kill themselves by taking part in his social media craze called Blue Whale – which police fear is spreading to Britain.
The Russian 21-year-old – who has now confessed to the crimes – says he thinks of his victims as ‘biological waste’ and told police that they were ‘happy to die’ and he was ‘cleansing society’.
The lethal game called Blue Whale involves brainwashing vulnerable teenagers over a period of 50 days, urging them to complete tasks from watching horror movies to waking at strange hours, and self-harming.
Eventually exhausted and confused, they are told to commit suicide, and it is feared in Russia that dozens have done so at the bidding of Budeikin or other ‘mentors’.
In Britain, a school in Essex had made parents aware of the game following talks with police. Police forces in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have urged parents to monitor their child’s social media.
Russian prison authorities say they have received dozens of love letters from teenage girls for the suspect at notorious Kresty jail in St Petersburg, which they passed on to him since he was held in November pending a trial.
Worringly, by law they say they cannot ban Budeikin – also known by the name Philipp Lis (meaning Fox) – from receiving and replying to teenage girls who supply their addresses.
Psychologist Veronika Matyushina said: ‘Most likely, those young girls who fell in love with Philip Lis were not receiving enough love and attention from their parents, and this handsome young man from the Internet provided certain support for them and gave that attention they needed.
‘This is where romantic feelings were born.’
Some estimates say hundreds of Russian teenagers – the vast majority female – have died after becoming fixated with these online death groups.
A disturbing video purports to show one Russian girl jumping to her death.
Anton Breido, a senior official from the Investigative Committee, seen as an equivalent of the FBI, warned: ‘Budeikin very clearly knew what he had to do to get the result (he wanted).
‘He started in 2013 and ever since he has polished his tactics and corrected his mistakes. Philipp and his aides at first attracted children into VK (social media) groups by using mega-scary videos.
‘Their task was to attract as many children as possible, then figure out those who would be the most affected by psychological manipulation.
‘Say, out of 20,000 people, they knew ‘their’ audience would be only 20 people.
‘”Biological waste” is how death group administrators referred to children they pushed to commit suicide.’ He explained how the deadly process worked.
‘They gathered the children, then offered simple tasks which for some children were too boring or weird to complete.