Though Pokémon GO has brought a great deal of happiness and solidarity to thousands around the world, not everyone has been so accepting of the mobile game's monstrous charms. GO has actually been banned in some countries and certain religious groups have deemed its content forbidden. But the most recent attack on Niantic's mobile hit comes from Russia, as the country's authorities seem set to try a young man for playing Pokémon GO in a church.
Fans Protest As Popular Russian Blogger Is Arrested For Playing Pokémon GO In A Church
Earlier this year, a state-owned news channel in Russia reported that Pokémon GO users could face jail time for playing the mobile game inside a church, citing the country's strict anti-blasphemy laws. Many were rightfully outraged by the idea and protested. But Ruslan Sokolovsky, a popular gamer and blogger, sought to take his protest to one of the country's hallowed halls; those of Yekaterinburg’s Church of All Saints. He had his adventure recorded and shared the footage on YouTube, which you can watch above.
Soon after the video was uploaded, police began investigating the video and Sokolovsky in an attempt to determine whether his actions warranted arrest. The decision was made quickly and the young man was detained. "Why?" you might ask.
In a statement, Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda claimed it was the provocative nature of Sokolovsky’s video—and not playing the game itself—that led to his arrest.
“It is clear that Mr. Sokolovsky was not a casual passerby, who in a fit of gaming passion went into the temple, but rather a well-known young blogger in the city, who works in the style of Charlie Hebdo,” wrote Vladimir Legoyda on Facebook.
Regardless, for "inciting hatred," Sokolovsky could reportedly face up to 5 years in prison for playing the game, something which infuriated people everywhere. Both inside and outside Russia, gamers and non-gamers quickly came to the man's defense, using the hashtag #FreeSokolovsky (#свободусоколовскому in Russian) in an effort to free him from detention. While some, like Legoyda above, were quick to lash out against the blogger's actions other notable figures preferred to highlight how nonsensical it all seemed.
“In my opinion, catching Pokémon is not an insult to religious feelings, because it is simply the use of a mobile phone application within religious buildings,” Jaroslav Nilov, head of the State Duma’s religious affairs committee
Here are some of the other reactions the world had to the alarming news.
It's unknown how long Sokolovsky will remain in jail prior to official sentencing, but here's hoping this ridiculous attack on freedom of expression and speech is quelled by common sense. Seriously, the guy was playing Pokémon GO. Let's relax.