MOSCOW – A court in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg has released a video blogger who was sent to pre-trial detention for playing Pokemon Go in a church.
Investigators charged Ruslan Sokolovsky with “inciting hatred” and “insulting religious feelings,” the same offense that sent two women from the Pussy Riot punk collective to prison for two years in 2012.
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Sokolovsky posted a video on his blog showing himself playing the smartphone game in a church built on the supposed spot where the family of the last Russian czar, Nicholas II, was killed.
“It is not normal, it is not right that a person can be jailed for such a minor thing. I believe it is not right. And I decided to prove it with my own example,” said Sokolovsky. “I think it does not insult believers’ feelings.”
Insulting religious feelings can be punishable up to three years in jail, according to Russia’s criminal code.
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Father Veniamin, a Russian Orthodox priest with the Yekaterinburg diocese said Sokolovsky’s actions were offensive.
“The problem is that he did it on purpose. Even though there were no Pokemon there. But it did not matter, it was a reason to insult [the church],” he said.
A lawyers’ group said on Thursday that the court released the 21-year-old on bail and that he will remain under house arrest at his attorney’s apartment.
— with files from Jenny Sung
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