Blogger guilty of hate crime after playing Pokemon Go in Russian church

For the most part, the "Pokémon Go" hype has died down significantly, but there are still plenty of people out there "catching 'em all", including a Russian blogger who was arrested for playing the video game in a church.

On Thursday, a judge in the Verkh-Isetsk district court in Yekaterinburg convicted Sokolovskiy of instigating strife and insulting the religious feelings of Russian citizens. On Thursday, May 11, Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak found Ruslan guilty of the charges and sentenced him to a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence. His video was posted to YouTube and has gotten almost 2 million views.

Ruslan Sokolovsky fought the law - and the law won.

The court found no aggravating circumstances in the case and took into consideration the fact that Sokolovsky had apologized to the believers for the videos.

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Sokolovsky had been detained since October and was facing up to five years in prison.

The video shows Sokolovsky playing the game in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg and referring to local news reports that warned people from playing it in Russia's churches.

Pokemon Go, jointly developed by Nintendo Co and Niantic Inc, generated masses of followers around the world as players use their phones to capture animated characters that appear in real locations.

"I thought I would die and not see him again", his mother said after the hearing.

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He pleaded not guilty in the case which has been compared to that of the Pussy Riot punk art group, whose 2012 "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral led to two-year prison terms. He added that the 22-year-old blogger's actions had sent a message of hatred to the church and its leader, Patriarch Kirill, according to RIA-Novosti.

"While some may see Ruslan Sokolovsky's comments on religion as disparaging, this alone is not enough to throw him behind bars", the NGO's Russian Federation director Sergei Nikitin said in a statement.

"Who can ever be offended by you walking around a church with your smartphone?" he asked at the start of his video.

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