According to reports by TheNextWeb, popular YouTuber Ruslan Sokolovsky was detained for two months by the local authorities in Russia after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in Yekaterinburg’s Church of All Saints. The vlogger was subsequently charged with “inciting hatred” and “insulting religious feelings” and now reportedly faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
His arrest follows the warning by Russia-24 that warned Pokemon Go enthusiasts that playing the game in church could land them in jail as it violates the country’s anti-blasphemy laws.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoyda has since explained in a statement on Facebook that it was Sokolovsky’s provocative attitude that got him in trouble and not strictly playing the game.
“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,” Legoyda wrote in a press statement.
Following the YouTuber’s arrest, Jaroslav Nilov from the State Duma’s religious affairs committee commented that investigators will still have to prove that Sokolovsky has indeed violated Russia’s anti-blasphemy before any further proceedings.
Nilov further called Sokolovsky’s detention unnecessary, claiming that catching Pokemon is not an insult to religious feelings.
Notably, two weeks after the launch of the game in July last year, Pokemon Go was been banned in Saudi Arabia because of their fatwa (no. 21,758) rule which was issued in 2001. The rule states that Pokemon game cards is a form of gambling, which is forbidden in Islam. On top of containing polytheistic symbols, the game is also said to promote Darwin’s theory of evolution, both seen as religious violations in Islam.