Russia: Blogger May Face 3.5 Years in Prison for Playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in Church

The free Pokemon Go smartphone game has triggered a near-obssessive craze since its release in the US, Australia and New Zealand last week

On Friday, Russian prosecutors sought a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for a 22-year-old blogger and charged him with inciting religious hatred for playing “Pokemon Go” in a church.

“Honestly, I’m really in shock that the state prosecutors asked for 3½ years,” particularly because it was not a violent offense, Ruslan Sokolovsky said, according to the Associated Press. The judge in the case will reportedly issue a verdict on May 11. Sokolovsky has been in detention since October.

Sokolovsky reportedly posted a video of him playing the popular game in church on his blog. According to the AFP, the video Sokolovsky posted in August 2016 has been viewed more than 1.6 million times on YouTube. He reportedly also faces a separate charge of illegally possessing a “spy pen” with a recording function in it. The device was discovered in his apartment.

The AP notes that the church Sokolovsky played “Pokemon Go” in is the same one Russians believe was built on the spot where the last Russian czar and his family were killed. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei were murdered by Bolshevik troops in 1918.

Sokolovsky, who describes himself as an atheist, has reportedly been charged with inciting religious hatred; the same offense that sent two women from Russian punk band “Pussy Riot” to prison for two years in 2012.

Breitbart News previously reported that the band’s five members sang a protest song at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin and the government’s ties to the church.

“Who is the Russian Orthodox Church that I have to publicly repent in front of them?” Sokolovsky reportedly said.

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