Weird World

Russian man gets three-and-a-half years of suspended jail for playing Pokemon Go in church

MOSCOW — A Russian man, who posted footage of himself playing Pokémon Go inside a Russian Orthodox church, has been convicted for “inciting religious hatred” and given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence by a court in Yekaterinburg.

Blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, 22, posted a video on YouTube at the height of the game’s popularity in August 2016, using strong language to mock Christianity and likening Jesus Christ to a Pokemon character.

In the video — which has been viewed more than 1.9 million times — Sokolovsky said he had decided to play the popular game inside the church because he had seen a news report saying people who did so could be fined or jailed.

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Sokolovsky was given a suspended three-and-a-half-year jail sentence, and was temporarily confined to a pre-trial detention centre.

The court in the Urals region city of Yekaterinburg also sentenced Sokolovsky to 160 hours of compulsory community service and told him not to show up in public places.

Sentencing Sokolovsky, Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak his videos manifested his “disrespect for society” and that he “intended to offend religious sentiments”.

Sokolovsky,after the sentencing, said: “I’m content. I won’t play Pokemon, it’s already out of fashion.”

His lawyer said Sokolovsky was unlikely to appeal the verdict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment when asked by reporters about the court’s decision.