A Yekaterinburg court in the Urals has sentenced a Russian blogger to a three-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence for hunting Pokémon in a church and posting video of the venture on the Internet.
Ruslan Sokolovski, 22, was found guilty of inciting hatred and insulting religious sentiments of believers.
An Atheist, the man realized it was legally risky to play Pokémon Go in a church, but chose to proceed summer in Yekaterinburg Cathedral, built on the site of The execution in 1918 of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
He videoed himself catching several of the virtual creatures, posted with an accompanying music soundtrack that featured false prayer sounds punctuated with curses.
In other videos on his YouTube account, he likened Jesus Christ to a zombie and claimed that God did not exist.
Judge Ekaterina Choponiak said in the course of the trial, which lasted about three hours, that the accused’s statements are disrespectful to society.
His conviction includes a a three-year period in which Sokolovski will not have the right to change jobs or residence without special permission or to participate in demonstrations.
This case echoes that of the charges and conviction of Pussy Riot – young women sentenced to two years in prison for a “punk prayer” in 2012 against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow Cathedral.
The young blogger told the press that he was glad to remain at liberty and was welcomed by a crowd of his supporters after leaving court. He promised to respect the conditions of his release.
“I’m not an extremist, that’s for sure,” he said.
Published on August 11th on YouTube, Ruslan Sokolovski’s video was viewed more than 1.9 million times as the Russian Orthodox Church accused the blogger of blasphemy.