Russian YouTuber Convicted Of ‘Inciting Religious Hatred’ For Playing Pokemon Go In Church
A YouTuber filmed himself playing Pokemon go inside of a church. What’s the worst that could happen? Not find any Pokemon? Be shooed away by a nun? Well, playing Pokemon Go in a Russia can get you in big, big trouble.
In August of 2016, Ruslan Sokolovsky posted a video of him playing Pokemon Go inside the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg.
“How can one offend by entering a church with a smartphone,” he asked. “I decided to just catch some Pokémon in church because, why not?
“I believe it’s both safe and not prohibited by law. Let’s go.”
Sokolovsky, who is a blogger, was very wrong.
Sokolovsky’s video went viral and has been viewed on YouTube nearly 2 million times. Even authorities saw the video and that was a bad thing.
The YouTuber has been detained since October and facing up to five years in prison.
On Thursday, Sokolovsky was found guilty of inciting animosity, offending religious feelings and illegally purchasing a pen containing a small hidden camera, something that would have to be licensed by the country’s security service.
Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak said the videos showed “disrespect for society” and that he “intended to offend religious sentiments.”
The court in Yekaterinburg handed down a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.
Sokolovsky refused to admit his guilt and said that inciting hatred was not the purpose of the video.
Supporters of the blogger started the hashtag #FreeSokolovsky on social meda and his case was reported by the media.
“Without the support from reporters, I would possibly have been given a real prison sentence.”