A Russian video blogger faces years in prison for playing Pokémon Go in a Yekaterinburg Orthodox church.
The country’s authorities had previously warned players of the augmented-reality mobile game that they could be jailed for playing inside churches.
22-year-old Ruslan Sokolovsky took up the challenge, last month posting a YouTube video of himself playing the game during prayer. In the video, he questioned how anyone could “get offended from walking with a smartphone in a church.”
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Sokolovsky will be detained for two months and could face as much as five years in jail for extremism insulting religious sensitivities, the Russian authorities said on the weekend.
Russian social media users are now using the hashtag #FreeSokolovsky to call for his release.
According to the Moscow Times, Sokolovsky launched an atheist publication earlier this year. Per Vocativ, he has also posted YouTube videos mocking the Russian Orthodox church’s senior clergy.
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Russian senator Frants Klintsevich last month called for restrictions on the game, warning: “It feels like the devil arrived through [Pokémon Go] and is trying to tear our morality apart from the inside.”
According to Ria Novosti, the head of the Russian parliament’s religious affairs commit is skeptical about Sokolovsky’s arrest, saying it has not been proven that catching Pokémon in a church equates to insulting religious sensitivities.