A Russian YouTube star thought it would be a good idea to test one of Russia’s strict criminal laws by playing the highly popular augmented reality game “Pokemon Go” in a church. He may now have to pay for it, big time.
In July, when the “Pokemon Go” fever was at its peak, the state owned channel Russia-24 issued a warning stating that playing the game in a church violates the country’s anti-blasphemy laws and could land players in jail.
However, Ruslan Sokolovsky, who in the past has not shown much consideration for religion, thought it was all quite absurd.
“This is complete nonsense,” Sokolovsky said, standing outside the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg, Russia. “Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smart phone in a church?”
The 21-year-old YouTuber filmed himself catching Pokemon in the church in early August and later posted the video on his YouTube channel. The video was viewed over 900,000 times and of course, the police got wind of it.
A week later, the Russian police started investigating him for offending religious sensibilities. In mid-August, Valery Gorelykh, the regional police spokesman said he wanted to see Sokolovsky sent to prison for “at least five years” to make an example of him.
Last week, the police invaded Sokolovsky’s home, confiscated his computer and detained him. A court later ruled he should spend two months in jail while his case was further investigated on the charges of “incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as abasement of human dignity.”
Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoyda stated in a statement on Facebook that it was not strictly playing the game in the church that landed Sokolovsky in jail, but rather his “deliberate provocation.” It does seem quite obvious that the Sokolovsky was simply doing it to challenge his country’s authorities.
However, many in the Twitterverse have shown their support to the YouTuber and are campaigning online for him to go free.
I want so much to say, and yet no words. #FreeSokolovsky— Nick Ptashitz (@sortfugl) September 4, 2016
It is not yet clear what fate will befall Sokolovsky but his lawyer said he could face an imprisonment of five years.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Alexei Kolchin