Russian could face five-year jail term for playing Pokemon Go in church

07 September 2016

Russian video blogger, Ruslan Sokolovsky who faces detention for two months, could end up doing five years of prison time for playing Pokémon Go in a church, The Guardian reported.

The young man was arrested under Article 282 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, which prohibits ''incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as abasement of human dignity.''

The same law was used to jail two members of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot.

Police have charged Ruslan Sokolovsky, the video blogger who filmed himself playing Pokemon Go inside a Yekaterinburg cathedral, with committing extremism and offending religious sensitivities. Sokolovsky has been detained and faces trial to determine if he will be arrested, his lawyer says.

The Moscow Times said, ''This is complete nonsense ... Who could get offended if you're just walking around with your smart phone in a church?''

According to commentators, it was not clear how this would end up. The head of the religious affairs committee, Jaroslav Nilov, expressed doubt whether simply using a smartphone in a church could in anyway be construed as an insult.

However, investigators said searches at his home had uncovered evidence of incitement to hatred and attacks on the liberty of faith.

Following the huge success of the smartphone app which was launched in July, authorities worldwide have issued several warnings.

It has already been blamed for crimes, traffic violations and complaints in cities around the globe.

Nilov, who heads the State Duma's religious affairs committee, said investigators had not proved that the blogger violated the country's strict anti-blasphemy law, adding that his detention was unnecessary.

"In my opinion, catching Pokémon is not an insult to religious feelings, because it is simply the use of a mobile phone application within religious buildings," Nilov told RIA Novosti.

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