Russian Pokemon Go player sentenced over blasphemy law

    
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The 22-year-old Russian vlogger convicted of playing Pokemon Go inside a church has been hit with a 3.5-year suspended sentence.

Ruslan Sokolovsky was found “guilty of inciting hatred, violating religious feelings and illegal possession of special technical means – a pen with a video camera” for recording himself playing Pokemon Go on his phone in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg last summer while carrying a piece of crap pencam from whatever the Russian equivalent of SharperImage is. He was detained and charged by authorities when the video of his mundane prank went viral.

“I believe that there is no reason to exempt the defendant from liability,” the Russian prosecutor said last month. “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.” The judge apparently agreed to the max sentence, but ordered it suspended. Sokolovsky has already been sitting in prison for seven months.

The judge referenced Sokolovsky’s “disrespect for society,” “mockery of the immaculate conception,” “denial of the existence of Jesus and Prophet Muhammad,” and “giving an offensive description of Patriarch Kirill,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in other videos. “Sokolovsky’s conviction caused outrage in Russia with many prominent figures describing it as a condemnation of atheism,” reports the AP, quoting Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s outrage.

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. Those women, however, served time.

Source: AP
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Rolan Storm

Usually I do not do that, but…

This guy is clever troll, not a victim. Hunter for popularity that got splapped pretty hard for breaking the law.

Statement: This is religious matter.
No. Hram-Na-Krovi is the church build on a place where last Russian Emperor and his family were executed. That place important not only to christians, but much more wide public. He was smart about choosing the place, it called for uproar. Which he was trying to incite with videos where he called Jesus pokemon. Actually he run off his mouth about a lot of things – which put him in trouble.

Statement: Idiotic Russian laws that put poor innocent people in jail.
Not exactly correct. Laws in this case are supposed to protect any religion (and they do) because if there were no laws about it they’ll be harrased. Simple as that.

Now why he got sentence (suspended means he is not going to jail) at all: for breaking the law. See, no one really cared about what he did in church. Guy did not bother someone, he just was walking around with his phone, right? Na-ah. He clearly stated: ‘this law is stupid, I will show how I break it’. He did. Nothing really happened. There was no real impact. I am sure there are a lot of guys who did similar things and got away with it. But no, he had to start running his mouth off. This and that, blah-blah-blah. So he break the law and bragging about it in social media.

Now that’s never ends well. See, there are people who answer to other people for order in certain area. They keep things in line or they get demoted – even fired – for not fulfilling their duties. Believe it or not it is everywhere, even in first-world countries. And when story got enough attention they had to act. Because story mutated from innocent prank into mocking religion and deisregard of the law.

So it’s not priests who snitched on him, not even other people who was scandalized by the fact he chose Hram-na-Krovi for stupid prank. He did it himself. ‘Maybe I am an idiot, but I am no extremist’. Yeah. An idiot. I do understand that he lives off his YouTube channel, good for him. But why he had to offend so many people AND brag about breaking the law? Now he got slapped much harder then he – supposedly – deserve to.

Or is he? He knew what he is doing, he just never cared for consequences of his actions. And he was made an example of. And that’s how it works. Everywhere. He is not a victim, he is just a troll that got more than he can handle.

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Kane Hart

tltr; Christian who is happy the laws exist. Yeah move along here.

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Ian Wells

As a professed atheist, an individual with a strong left leaning bent, and a general uneasiness towards Russian culture in general (your leaders, strong homophobic bents, gutter-trash speaking religious leaders who spread little more than hate on prime time television, a para-military unit that is literally a biker gang whose primary focus is literally gay bashing, the fact that your country is at least 80-years behind the curve on Feminism, ect), I actually agree with most of what you have to say. This guy was a disrespectful ass.

He knew there were laws in place to protect sites of religious significance and yet he decided to publicly defame those laws, those sites, and the people who held belief in those things on a public channel. Just because he was speaking out against a powerful majority puts him in no better right than if he was speaking out against a powerless minority.

That said, that he spent that much time in prison, and that he will permanently have a 3.5 year sentence hanging over his head should he ever step a single toe out of line gain, seems a little Draconian – particularly given that Russian work camps are not known internationally for being particularly safe or humane places.

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Ian Wells

The Pussy Riot thing was still a total shit show though.

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Rolan Storm

Yeah-meh.

Everyone got too much too fast. I mean what’s wrong with them? Why you have to desecrate church altar? Why you trash president? Why are you ‘pussy riot’ (seriously – bleh)? You need attention? There are ways to get it. You want to protest against status quo? There are ways to do that. Why you have to be punk about it?

And then they go to jail. For real. Whoa! They are idiots, not bandits. Guess it was an example too.

I see a lot of double standards when it comes to discussion of Russia. When someone burns U.S. flag – it’s outrage and wrong (also: WHY? why burn the flag? what, no respect for your country? idiots). When someone does the same to Russian tricolor – that’s noble protest against tyranny of oppressors. Who the hell is oppressed? Where they saw it? Never mind. Russia is evil again, that’s all you people need to know. Don’t check facts. Listen to what you told. Believe it.

Pffft. Propaganda everywhere.

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Ian Wells

On that matter, most Americans really don’t care if someone burns an American flag, as it is little more than an impotent statement. Yes, there are the Bible-thumping flag-waving sorts (who ironically fail to follow even the basics of flag etiquette by making clothes out of the flag and exposing their flags to all kinds of weather), but those are fewer than they may appear due only to the fact that American politicians have lost seats for not acting sad enough on the anniversary of 9.11 due to an over reaction from their opposition tarring their image for poorly informed fence sitters, and other such things.

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Rolan Storm

Yeah, burning U.S. flags won’t make U.S. less. :D Or any other country for that matter. It might be not the best example, but you get the gist.

Also few people care about anything beyond their own gain – that is. So we are back to that ‘pokemon player’. I just don’t believe him to be a victim, that’s all. Rather a bad player – and I don’t mean ‘Pokemon Go’.

Bible-thumpers… You know, comparing I see similar events and similar factions/people here. I think they are crazy AND stupid. Problem is they have so much energy.

As for ‘lost seats’ I heard about ‘act proper, or else’ (saying certain things is wrong, one should act the part, etc.) tendency in the States, but since I’ve never been there – and even if I have been it’s not the same as living – I can’t talk about it without any decent knowledge of the situation. Sounds a lot like USSR, where a lot was about appeareances and if you do not play the part you get reprimanded. It’s funny to see how old-generation people trying to play this card from time to time, trying to get ahead in social conflicts. But it does not work anymore on domestic level and they get nowhere, which frustrates them even further.

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Rolan Storm

Like I said – he was made an example of and only because he challenged system, repeatedly. To prevent others from doing the same. It is, indeed, draconian. But that’s how power structure reacts. Every time I see someone teasing the system just to make a childish statement I crinkle. It’s not something you tease. And it always fights back much harder then it was damaged. And it is true for any system. Guess nothing changed since Niccolò Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ in that regard.

As for culture in particular and Russia in general: I guess you never been here and have not experienced for yourself. See, there is a lot of propaganda going around (both ways). But I am not here to convince anyone.

Also, while I am not atheist I do not adore Orthodox church (after being prosecuted in USSR they are trying to get as much power as they can – not good, really not) and I am not fan of the laws, especially when they bent against an individual. Goes with family history, I guess. My reason for writing that unnecessarily lengthy piece was me being tired of hearing what monsters we are (and on site about online gaming of all places). We are not. And this guy is a moron. On everything else we’d agree to disagree, I guess.

Thanks for thoughtful comment. Previous author’s superficial judgment made me laugh a lot. Placing me into ‘lawful christians’ – that was gooood. :D

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Kala Mona

Well this story took place in Russia, which (during its atheist Soviet period) killed about 10 million (!) people for being religious.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Soviet_Union

So defending religion and holy places like this might seem stupid to you, but it is no more stupid than in Germany, where you can find yourself in prison for belittling the holocaust (even though if you do, you only hurt people’s feelings too).

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Kala Mona

I mean in a country that has a past of killing millions of religious people because of their beliefs, being hateful towards religions has a different meaning than in the USA for example.

But yeah it is easier to spread “stupid russians, stupid religions”.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Also (more) accurate.

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Rolan Storm

Insightful.

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Ian Wells

Think of it like black face. In the US, that shit can get you shot and the vast majority of individuals will see it as an over reaction yet agree that, on the whole, you kind of had it coming to you for being a douche. In other parts of the world where over a hundred of years of slavery – followed by a hundred years of active oppression, followed by a hundred years of people shouting “But racism is over!” every time an injustice is brought to light – never happened, black people are a little more willing to let that shit slide.

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Crowe

Moral to the story: if you’re in a country with stupid laws and you decide to break them, it’s probably best not to film yourself doing that and then post it.

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rafael12104

So, a question before my comment. What does a “suspended sentence” mean there, I wonder? I know what it means here, but it seems worth asking since obviously the laws are so very different.

Seeing the judges statements is cringe worthy. I speak for myself on that, but wow. Makes me want to listen to Lee Greewood. Lol

“And I gladly STAND UP!…”

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possum440 .

For the millions in these gangs of mind washed individuals his sentence or potential sentence was just fine.

For we Humans, that can think for ourselves and do not need an invisible buddy or virgins after death or afterlife disney land, or multiple wives after death, or wives with riches riches after death, or turn into an animal after death, or………well you get the point of religion.

People will be up in arms about how you can say that about religion, well guess what, you get to run your mouth about how great your imaginary friend is, I get to tell you how stupid you are.

Say, lets look at this religion chosen randomly. 1.6 billion muslims, 15-24% are radical, per all the intelligence agencies world wide. (white paper source on the net, homeland security, islamic terrorism) and want to destroy western culture in violent, murdering ways, that is roughly 180-300 million murdering fanatic Islamic terrorists. All the while, the peaceful muslim is irrelevant as they do nothing. You do not see the vast majority of “peaceful muslims” rising up and slaying their out of control terrorist buddies, instead, they sit back, the vast majority remain silent, and they do nothing to stop them.

That was one religion. I could go on and list all the wonderful things religion has done to this planet but you get the point.

Practice what you want, but keep it to yourself and don’t bother anyone.

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Kala Mona

Well Atheist Soviet Union killed about 10-20 million people because of their religions, which is more than all the crusades and inquisition combined. And it did in about 60 years, not over a thousand.

I think people who firmly believe they know it better, they are dangerous. That includes atheists.

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Viktor Budusov

This guy was sentenced for public labour not because of playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in the church but for hating posts and videos against different religions (christianity, islam), feminism etc.

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imayb1

Yes, it is important to emphasize that this Pokemon player was in trouble for his online presence. From the ABC news article linked above, “The judge pointed out [he] was on trial not only for playing the game in the church but also for posting several videos that offended believers.” Online, he was not shy about his strong anti-religious viewpoints which is why he was slapped with “inciting religious hatred”. He was publicized in Russian media previously for his blasphemy. This game just called attention to all of it and as kind of a ‘last straw’, landed him in jail.

In essence, it’s not as much about Pokemon as it is about a lack of Russian freedoms.

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Nathan Aldana

eh, as someone also with strong anti-religious viewpoints, part of me wants to call him a hero just to anger Viktor over here.

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imayb1

I have very strong anti-relgious viewpoints myself, so I completely understand. :)

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Viktor Budusov

Why you think i’ll be angered? Is it sort of racial prejudice like “All Russians are ultra-conservative bear-lovers vodka-drinkers dumbheads (and somehow megahackers)”.

I don’t call Ruslan a hero, i think he is cynical moron and troll. But of course he doesn’t deserve to be sentenced for his opinion even if trolling. These laws are very stupid and i wrote many times in my blog they should be repeled.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, stupid laws. I agree. I think Russia has the same issue with USA in the way they’re not really exposed. Most racists end up having few contact with other races, so they end up feeling the void in information with prejudice. It’s a issue that would be fixed if people weren’t split into districts and social classes.

I don’t know about Russia, and i don’t want to generalize, but the country itself is ran like a xenophobic/homphobic gulag-church.

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Estranged

Bruno, I just don’t understand. Was not too long ago that Russians would be punished for expressing religion.

There is more to this story. We are missing something.

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Nathan Aldana

the more to the story is called. Communism fell, and the new order that arose basically collapsed right back into being authoritarian, but this time by encouraging religious zealots instead of suppresing them.

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Rolan Storm

@Bruno: no, it does not. Come visit sometime, don’t be afraid. Choose St. Petersburg, not Moscow for a first vist. You’ll understand what Russia is about.

@Drainage: Indeed. An ability to doubt propaganda is fundamental quality of free mind. Good to see people who try to understand.

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Viktor Budusov

>In essence, it’s not as much about Pokemon as it is about a lack of Russian freedoms.

Yep, exactly this unfortunately.

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Estranged

Viktor – did he go into the Church with the motivation of causing trouble? I think the penalty was too harsh, but a night in jail might have been appropriate.

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Robert Mann

Yep, another stupid law.

Nope, not a good move on this person’s part (they knew the situation and what would likely happen… or are dumber than your own choice of inanimate object.) Granted, there’s not a good and simple means of protest in Russia at the moment (not that people do a great job of protesting most of the time in nations which allow such activities) but… why do something that will result in yourself sitting in jail with no results?!?

Someday, when we all decide we have had enough, we will work on a government of equality that doesn’t go overboard against personal choices and freedoms. It will, sadly, probably result in a war wherever that spark occurs (the rich and socially powerful like their governments for the rich and socially powerful!) I do think that the end result will be, should those principles be true and the people enacting the rules of the new government willing to work and seek wisdom in writing and putting incredibly strict limitations upon that government, of great value to those future generations who will benefit.

But enough political philosophy. Blasphemy remains a stupid law, people breaking laws rather than finding another way to protest or fight those laws is foolish, and we are all here for games rather than much of anything else… so on to happier topics!

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Jack Pipsam

I find the whole idea of blasphemy law to be disgusting honestly.

I am a very firm believer in the separate of church and state. You want to follow a religion, good for you, but it shouldn’t affect the laws of the land which everybody has to live by. Including those of other religious, different sects of the religions, people of your religion who might feel differently on different topics or the increasing number of those like myself who reject the whole idea all together.

I was forced into a catholic school, I have seen the whole spectrum from Catholics who follow the book to the letter to Catholics who disregarded everything in the bible, but still claim they’re devout.
Point is people are diverse from the most faithful to the least, from those who dedicate their life to their church to those who don’t believe in any kind of higher-power.

The law which we follow should be in all our best interest, not the convenient interest of the dominant faith of those in parliament. But it even just takes one to mess it up.

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Robert Mann

Agreed, so long as it is done well. I don’t want to limit anyone’s choice of beliefs, nor to say they can’t do something like put up a religious grave marker for their loved ones just because it is on government land.

Keeping the government and any religion(s) or anti-religious groups from forcing their views on others is certainly best! *Sadly nobody really does that well in our world.*

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Jack Pipsam

Quite.
I am a atheist, but I wouldn’t want to see any anti-religious legislation in the exact same way as I wouldn’t want to see pro-relgious legislation.
Keeping any kind of faith (or deliberate anti-faith) out of the laws is for the best of everybody.

The only thing I might be inclined on is keeping religion firmly away from the public school system, purely because its driven by the bias of whoever is teaching it. Too many reports of it going badly with kids being told they’re going to hell or to follow the religion of the teacher, ignore any others. If it was an impartial cultural class, fine, but it isn’t.

I am very fortunate my primary school (which was public) didn’t have any sort of relgious class like some do, it’s just too problematic. Not because of the kids, but because of the teachers.

I went to a Catholic high-school (not my choice), but by then I had made up my mind and so whatever the teachers said had little impact on me in RE. But for primary school kids, it really is the whole they believe in Easter/Santa argument so God is in that vain.
Is that unfair? Maybe, but I am admittedly biased in how I view it. I am no better, I am incredibly biased.
But luckily for me I am neither a law-maker or a teacher, so eh.

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Nordavind

I like kittens.
comment image

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Bruno Brito

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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Rolan Storm

Daaaaw…

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Line

No.
People just don’t like to be told that they’re not polite.

But there has been a massive push of whataboutism to convince passersby on the internet that calling someone a bigot for screaming “faggot” is just as bad as the murder gangs that they gladly support.

Quite literally, in this Russian example, actually.