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Russian man faces 5 years in prison for playing Pokémon Go in a church


Ruslan Sokovsky, a Russian blogger from Yekaterinburg, was arrested on September 3, by a local court. The reason: in August, Sokolovsky posted a video on his YouTube channel showing him playing Pokémon Go—and catching actual pokémons—in the Temple on Blood, a local Orthodox church built to commemorate the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The police considers this to be a violation of the Russian law against mockery of religious beliefs.

In the video, published on August 11, Sokolovsky derided the ban to play the game in churches. A Russian state news program had earlier shown a story about Pokémon Go which warned players against catching pokemons on the state border or in churches, noting that such actions could result in a criminal case and jail time. However, in the video, Sokolovsky didn’t seem concerned. “Who can be offended by the fact that you’re walking around a church with a smartphone?” he asked before heading to the building.


It didn’t play well. A week later, Valery Gorelykh, a spokesperson for the regional police department, said that the video will be checked for violations of law. He also expressed his personal opinion, saying that such “pokemonists” should be sent to jail for 5 years minimum, so that others would be discouraged from committing blasphemy.

On September 2, Sokolovsky was detained. The police took the keys to his rented apartment from the bloger’s landlord and came to arrest him early in the morning. The next day, a local court ruled to arrest him. Sokolovky is being charged with in mockery of religious beliefs, which is a criminal offense in Russia.

Sokolovsky is known for his anticlerical views. In one of his previous videos he sharply criticized the way of life suggested by one of the Russian priests. A Ural publication even asked the police to check his statements for suggested extremist views.

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