Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game that dominated the internet briefly in 2016 before torpedoing out of our lives, has cost a Russian blogger, well, bigly. Ruslan Sokolovsky, who played Pokemon Go inside a church to protest against his country’s laws, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Thursday.
The video (above) was recorded in Yekaterinburg’s Church of All Saints, and Sokolovsky has reportedly been found guilty of charges ranging from “violating religious feelings” to “illegal possession of a pen that contained a video camera”.
The blogger was put under house arrest in September 2016 but later detained after he violated the terms of his arrest by uploading a video online. During the trial, the YouTuber said that the pen was not a camera, but a source of light. He also apologised to anyone he may have offended, but that did not affect the terms of his sentence. He has received a suspended sentence, but it is unclear whether he will be sent to a real prison or remain in the detention centre.
Sokolovsky’s sentence is similar to the case of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, whose members spent two years in prison for playing a song inside a church.
“I may be an idiot, but I am by no means an extremist,” Sokolovsky said in a statement before he was sentenced. “A long time ago, people were imprisoned in camps and for longer terms – not for 3.5 years, but for decades – because they joked, for example, about communism and about Stalin. Now it turns out that they want to imprison me for 3.5 years [in real terms] because [I] obscenely joked about Orthodoxy and about Patriarch Kirill. For me, this is savagery and barbarism. I do not understand how this is at all possible. Nevertheless, as we have seen, it is quite possible indeed.”