Russian Blogger Arrested, Detained for Two Months for Playing Pokémon GO in a Church

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Pokémon GO is anywhere from a great game to a terrible game depending on who you ask, but the way it’s made society confront the future of technology has been fascinating. The massive number of players and worldwide playing field made the physical world and the digital world collide in unexpected ways, and that’s resulted in lots of growing pains—including a Russian blogger now arrested for playing the game in a church.

Whereas the strongest reaction most of us would expect for playing Pokémon GO in an inappropriate place would be a stern look—or maybe open call-outs, removal from the premises, or removal from employment, depending on location—not every culture or nation is the same. Russian authorities had previously warned that playing the game in locations like churches or near international borders would result in jail time, and they didn’t take too kindly to Ruslan Sokolovsy posting a YouTube video of himself doing just that in a Russian cathedral.

Sokolovsky will be detained for two months for “inciting hatred” and “insulting religious feelings,” based on the idea that his actions weren’t just innocent gaming but a direct provocation in defiance of the aforementioned warnings. Vladimir Legoyda, chairman of the Synodal Informational Department of the Russian Orthodox Church, explained as much in a Facebook post, though it comes as thin justification for such an overreaction.

There’s been outcry on Twitter, where a #FreeSokolovsky (#свободусоколовскому) has cropped up in Sokolovsky’s defense. Hopefully, nothing worse befalls Sokolovsky and he’s back out there catching Pokémon at the end of two months, as he could reportedly face up to five years in prison for the offense.

(via Uproxx, image via The Pokémon Company)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.