Blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky to face 3.5 years in prison for playing Pokémon Go in a church

11:54, 28 april 2017

Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky might be sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for playing Pokémon Go in a church, an act that was offensive to religious believers, argued the persecution.

“I may be an idiot, but I am by no means an extremist,” said Sokolovsky in his final statement. “A long time ago, people were imprisoned in camps and for longer terms – not for 3.5 years, but for decades – because they [foully] joked, for example, about communism and about Stalin. Now it turns out that they want to imprison me for 3.5 years [in real terms] because [I] obscenely joked about Orthodoxy and about Patriarch Kirill. For me, this is savagery and barbarism. I do not understand how this is at all possible. Nevertheless, as we have seen, it is quite possible indeed.”

Sokolovsky is being accused of three offenses (based on three articles of Russia’s criminal code): on inciting hatred or enmity, offending religious believers, and illegally bringing in equipment for covert filming. The blogger pleaded innocent to all three charges.

Prosecutor Yekaterina Kalinina argued that a “suspended term [would] only give rise to a sense of impunity” and requested that Sokolovsky be sentenced to real terms in prison.

The blogger was detained in September 2016 after posting a vlog of himself playing Pokémon Go in Yekaterinburg’s Church of All Saints. Legal experts decided that the blogger had equated Jesus Christ with the game’s characters. Sokolovsky’s other vlogs were also used as evidence against in the case.

When Sokolovsky was searched, authorities also found that he was carrying a pen with a built-in camera. During his trial, the blogger insisted that the pen does not belong to him. He also stressed that the pen is equipped with a light bulb, and not a camera, which would make the device impossible to use for covert shooting.