Playing Pokémon Go inside a church in Russia got local YouTube star Ruslan Sokolovsky into a whole lot of trouble.
Sokolovsky was arrested last September after he posted a video online of him playing Pokémon Go in an Orthodox church in the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg, about 900 miles east of Moscow.
The 22-year-old blogger was accused of “offending religious sensibilities” by playing the monster-catching game on a religious site, and using some rather colorful language while comparing Jesus to a character from the hit mobile game. However, at the end of his trial this week he escaped the maximum punishment of five years in jail and was instead handed a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.
The judge told Sokolovsky he had had insulted the feelings of believers by “attributing to Jesus Christ the qualities of a reanimated zombie,” the Washington Post reported.
Before his arrest, the Russian authorities had already warned its Go-playing citizens that trying to catch ’em all inside places of religious worship could land them in serious bother.
In the YouTube video at the center of the case, the Pokémon Go player, on his way into the church, describes the ban as “complete nonsense,” adding, “Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smartphone in a church?” He soon found out.
A later search of Sokolovsky’s home turned up “evidence of incitement to hatred and attacks on the liberty of faith,” according to an AFP report at the time.
Following Thursday’s verdict, the blogger told the BBC he’d already made an apology to those he’d offended and said his video was “too cynical for Russian society.”
As for the game at the center of the controversy, Sokolovksy said he won’t be playing it anymore because “it’s already out of fashion.”