Man Arrested For Playing Pokemon Go In Church Found Guilty In Russian Court

by John Haltiwanger

If you ever end up in church in Russia, do yourself a favor and don't play Pokemon Go.

A Russian blogger named Ruslan Sokolovsky has learned this the hard way.

He was arrested after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a church. He was found guilty this week of insulting religious believers and inciting hatred in the court in the city of Yekaterinburg, BBC News reports.

The church he played in was built in memory of Tsar Nicholas II -- the last emperor of Russia -- and his family.

Sokolovsky was also found guilty of "illegal trafficking of special technical equipment" for possessing a pen with a built-in video camera that was found when his house was searched.

He received a 3.5 year suspended sentence. Catching 'em all apparently comes with quite a cost in Mother Russia.

The video that led to all of this is still on YouTube. As of Thursday, May 11, 2017, it's been viewed nearly two million times.

Sokolovsky told BBC News Russian he's happy with the sentence, which amounts to probation instead of actual prison time.

"Until the very last moment I didn't know what the sentencing would be, that's why I was very nervous and feared I would get a real prison term," he said.

He thanked the media for coming to his defense, saying, "Without the support from reporters, I would possibly have been given a real prison sentence."

Sokolovsky's arrest was heavily criticized on social media via the hashtag #FreeSokolovsky. The famous anti-Putin band, Pussy Riot, tweeted in support of the young man.


During the trial, Sokolovsky made a point of apologizing to anyone he offended with the video. Had he not done this, it's conceivable his punishment could've been far more harsh.

Then again, many would likely argue it's quite ridiculous to punish someone for playing Pokemon Go at all, regardless of the location.

Citations: Pokemon Go: Russian blogger sentenced (BBC News)