Pokémon Go fever is running high around the world, but for some, it’s a nuisance. The most recent example is of a Russian YouTuber who caught a Poliwag in a church and posted footage of it online on August 11. The person, however, has been imprisoned for playing the game in the church and could be sentenced to years in jail.
Playing Pokémon Go inside Church is an offense
According to a report in The Guardian, the video that Ruslan Sokolovsky posted has already generated 900,000 views. The video begins with Sokolovsky addressing news reports warning players of the popular game to abstain from playing the game in a church; otherwise, they will be locked up.
Sokolovsky is seen saying in the video, “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.”
The video provoked police to investigate Sokolovsky, whose YouTube channel has around 300,000 subscribers. Sokolovsky has a history of criticizing the Russian church, notes The Guardian.
In a statement released on Saturday, the investigation committee said they found him guilty of “inciting hatred and offending religious sensibilities,” and will be detained for two months as a result. The penalty could be as high as five years in prison, the statement said.
All to protest the authorities
The Associated Press notes that Sokolovsky has filed an appeal.
The Moscow Times translated his statement to English: “This is complete nonsense … Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smart phone in a church?”
Jaroslav Nilov, head of the religious affairs committee, is not sure if simply using a phone inside the church could constitute an insult. However, Vladimir Legoyda, spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church, has a different view, notes The Verge. He called Sokolovsky a blogger who works “in the style of Charlie Hebdo.” Nevertheless, it is clear from the video that Sokolovsky did so with the intent of challenging authorities.
The Guardian and The Verge have noted that Sokolovsky allegedly violated the same Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code that landed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot in jail for several years in 2012. To protest the YouTuber’s arrest, activists, including a member of Russia’s Progress party and other Russian fans, have planned Pokéwalks to the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.