Pokémon Go player sentenced for inciting religious hatred
Ruslan Sokolovsky, above, arrested last August for committing the horrendous crime of playing the video game in the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land in Yekaterinburg, was given a suspended jail sentence this week.
The blogger, according to this report, compounded his offence by posting his caper on YouTube, and more than two million people viewed his video.
In a short speech at the beginning of the video, Sokolovsky dismissed media reports that playing Pokémon Go in churches could result in a prison sentence. He said:
This is complete nonsense. Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smartphone in a church?
But several weeks later, on September 2, Sokolovsky was detained on charges of extremism and insulting the feelings of believers.
Prosecutors claim to have found “elements of incitement of hatred” in nine videos uploaded by Sokolovsky to YouTube and his so-called “atheist” video blog, between May 2013 and September 2016.
He was charged with nine counts of inciting hatred and seven of breaching the right to freedom of religion.
A separate charge of using special equipment to illegally obtain information was added to the list after police found a ballpoint pen with a hidden camera during a search of his home.
The maximum sentence for insulting the rights of religious believers carries a sentence of up to seven years. But prosecutors thought that a three-and-a-half year term in prison would be sufficient punishment.
But on Thursday, a court sentenced him to 160 hours of compulsory community service and ordered him not to appear in public places.
Russian news agencies had quoted a prosecutor as saying in court:
There are no grounds to let the defendant go unpunished.
Pokémon Go, jointly developed by Nintendo Co and Niantic Inc, generated masses of followers around the world as players use their phones to capture animated characters that appear in real locations.
Sokolovsky’s treatment has drawn comparisons with the jailing of the Pussy Riot performance artists after they staged a punk performance in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.
The case has once again highlighted the power of the Russian Orthodox Church under the conservative rule of President Vladimir Putin.
Hat tip: Pasties