The social media masses are up in arms following the arrest of a popular Russian blogger. His charge? Playing Pokémon Go inside a church in the city of Yekaterinburg. This certainly makes your parents seem nicer for making you wear a tie to church as a kid. Pokémon Go has asked us to visit some terrible places in the past, but none have ever gotten us in this much trouble.
Ruslan Sokolovsky finds himself in hot water following the posting of a video of himself trying to catch the digital mythical creatures inside a historic cathedral. Authorities say he will be detained for two months for “inciting hatred” and “insulting religious feelings” pending further investigation that could lead to up to five years in prison.
But the people are not having it; hell no, they won’t Pokémon Go, you could say. The hashtag #FreeSokolovsky — #свободусоколовскому in Russian, but you already knew that — is making its way around Twitter, Facebook, and Russia’s largest social network, Vkontakte, in an attempt to bring awareness to Sokolovsky’s harsh charges.
The video in question — currently sitting at nearly one million views on YouTube — shows that Sokolovksy didn’t exactly slip his phone out of his pocket during a down time in mass. Sokolovsky clearly went out of his way to disobey warnings broadcast days earlier in a Russian state news program in which authorities made clear playing Pokémon Go on the state border or in churches is grounds for arrest.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda indicated that the premeditation that went into the video is what makes it all that much more offensive:
“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 <em>Charlie Hebdo</em>,” wrote Vladimir Legoyda wrote on Facebook.”
However, Jaroslav Nilov, head of the State Duma’s religious affairs committee, isn’t joining others in the quest to lock up the Russian blogger for something that in the end is just a bad look.
“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,” Nilov told RIA Novosti
Sokolovsky is apparently well known for his anticlerical views, making him an easier target in this instance. He’s routinely uploaded videos in which he disagrees with the church’s thinking and way of life. For now, it looks like he stepped his toe a little far past the Pikachu line, and he may have to pay his freedom for it.