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Pokémon Go fan avoids prison for playing the game in a Russian church

A Russian fan of Pokémon Go was given a suspended sentence this week for playing the mobile game in a church, which the court claims was a crime.

Published onMay 12, 2017

The act of playing a smartphone game in a church can get you into some serious trouble if you happen to be located in Russia. A 22-year old gamer and YouTube celebrity found that out the hard way when he posted a video of himself in August playing Pokémon Go at the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg.

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The gamer, Ruslan Sokolovsky, said he was inspired to make the video after hearing on the news that Pokémon Go players could be arrested if they played the mobile AR game in a church. As it turned out, that news story was correct. In September, Sokolovsky was detained and charged for “incitement of hatred or enmity and humiliation of human dignity” in the country.

The final result of this criminal proceeding was decided upon this week, and it was a case of “good news, bad news” for Sokolovsky. The state news agency TASS reports that while he was indeed convicted of charges of inciting hatred for his actions, the judge gave him a suspended sentence of 3.5 years, which means Sokolovsky will not spend any more time in jail.

While Sokolovsky pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, the story says he has since apologized to anyone who was offended by his videos. This apparently helped the judge in this case make the decision to rule on the suspended sentence. Sokolovsky has also been ordered to delete any of his videos that have offended people under those charges, and he also cannot participate in mass events.

Obviously, Sokolovsky was trying to make a point about how rules in Russia in this instance seem excessive. What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments.

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