Russian blogger convicted for playing Pokemon Go in church

2017-05-11 19:00
A picture taken on March 13, 2017 shows Ruslan Sokolovsky, a blogger who played Pokemon Go on his phone in a church. (AFP)

A picture taken on March 13, 2017 shows Ruslan Sokolovsky, a blogger who played Pokemon Go on his phone in a church. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yekaterinburg - A Russian court on Thursday convicted a video blogger of inciting hatred against believers by posting videos online showing him chasing Pokemons in a church, giving him a suspended sentence.

Ruslan Sokolovsky, a militant atheist who posted the videos on his YouTube channel, was detained in August 2016 and spent nine months in jail and under house arrest.

His case, heard in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, highlighted the role of the powerful Orthodox Church and sparked comparisons with the scandalous case that saw members of the Pussy Riot punk group sent to prison for a performance critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

Sokolovsky, who was born in 1994, was accused of "blasphemy" by the Church after he filmed himself in Yekaterinburg's famous Church on the Blood zapping Pokemons on his smartphone and swearing, as well as saying Pokemons were easier to find there than Jesus.

Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak convicted him on three charges, including inciting hatred and violating believers' rights.

"Aggregating all offences, the court sentences [Sokolovsky] to three years and six months of prison. The punishment is suspended, with a probationary period of three years," Shoponyak said in a packed courtroom.

Hurting believers' feelings 

The court agreed with the prosecution that a number of videos on Sokolovsky's channel hurt the feelings of religious people and incited hatred against them by comparing Jesus Christ to a zombie, saying that God does not exist and arguing that Russia is an obscurantist country.

His statements "confuse citizens" and are "disrespectful of society", Shoponyak said during the three-hour-long verdict.

"These actions are extremist actions," she said of his video postings.

The decision to give Sokolovsky a suspended sentence and free him from house arrest, where he had been currently held, were met with claps and sighs of relief in the courtroom.

"I thought I would die and not see him again," his mother said after the hearing. "Thank you everybody."

Sokolovsky during the trial pleaded not guilty and refused to testify.

In a passionate final statement, he said he is "an atheist, a cosmopolitan and a libertarian" and did not want to prevent anyone from practising their religion.

Amnesty International called him a prisoner of conscience and had urged Russia to release him.

Read more on:    russia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.