A 22-year-old Russian vlogger is facing prison time for playing Pokemon Go inside a church.
Last summer, Ruslan Sokolovsky recorded himself playing Pokemon Go on his phone in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg, noting on the recording that he couldn’t see how his actions could offend anyone. When the video went viral, Russian authorities detained Sokolovsky and charged him with inciting religious hatred. His trial began in March; he now faces a potential 3.5 year sentence. The verdict will be determined on May 11th.
“I believe that there is no reason to exempt the defendant from liability,” a Russian state prosecutor said, according to Sky News, one of many publications reporting on the surreal nature of the trial. “There is also no reason to sentence him to a fine … I request that the court sentence him to three-and-a-half years in a penal colony.”
As Sky News points out, this is the same blasphemy law used to prosecute Russian punk band Pussy Riot, three members of which were convicted — amidst considerable international outrage — of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and imprisoned for several years following an anti-Putin performance in an Orthodox cathedral.