There was a sense of concern floating in the air when "Pokemon Go" was released in Russia with officials openly expressing their scepticism on the game, and now it is coming true. A vlogger could face a jail term of five years for playing playing the game in the church.
Ruslan Sokolovsky was filmed playing "Pokemon Go" in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg last month. The video was uploaded on YouTube on Aug. 11 and has received over a million views so far, but it has triggered controversy with police initiating an investigation soon after it was shared.
The 21-year-old "Pokemon Go" trainer has now been charged with inciting hatred and humiliation of human dignity, and hurting religious sentiments by the Investigation Division of the Kirov district.
The investigating committee has charged Ruslan under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement of hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity) and Article 148 Criminal Code (violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion, committed in places specially designed for worship and other religious rites and ceremonies).
The investigating committee said in a statement that the accused has been detained for two months, until Nov. 1, for investigation. The penalty for the offence could be up to five years of imprisonment.
It may be mentioned that Russian officials had openly criticised "Pokemon Go" even before its release in the country.
Sokolovsky had said in his video that he would catch Pokemon in the church, as he "believe it's both safe and not prohibited by law."
Meanwhile, many Russian public figures, including punk collective Pussy Riot, have spoken out in support of Sokolovsky. The same law had put Pussy Riot members in jail in the past. Twitter supporters are campaigning under hashtag #FreeSokolvsky to free the vlogger, but it is to be seen if they will succeed.
In the meantime, gamers in India, China, South Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sri Lanka, Nepal and South Korea are still waiting for the release of "Pokemon Go". Developers of the game, Nintendo and Niantic, have been keeping silent after releasing it to a few countries.
The game is not without problem with Iran banning it over safety concern, and countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand restricting it in select places. In India, a PIL has been filed in the Gujarat High Court seeking a ban on the game over safety concerns even before its launch.
"Pokemon Go" is a free augmented reality (AR) mobile phone game that lets players catch virtual characters in real life environment. It requires real-time geospatial technologies and Google's map data to play and is available only for iOS and Android platforms.
There was a sense of concern floating in the air when "Pokemon Go" was released in Russia with officials openly expressing their scepticism on the game, and now it is coming true. A vlogger could face a jail term of five years for playing the game in the church.