Pokemon Go: Russian blogger sentenced

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Ruslan Sokolovsky (right) during a court hearing. Photo: March 2017Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Ruslan Sokolovsky (right) earlier pleaded not guilty

A Russian blogger has been given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a church

The court in the city of Yekaterinburg found Ruslan Sokolovsky guilty of insulting religious believers and inciting hatred.

During the trial, Sokolovsky, now aged 22, had pleaded not guilty.

He filmed himself playing the popular game in the local Orthodox church in August 2016.

He was arrested shortly afterwards.

On Thursday, Sokolovsky was also found guilty of "illegal trafficking of special technical equipment" after a pen with a built-in video camera had been discovered during the search of his home.

During the trial, the prosecution had asked for Sokolovsky to be jailed for three-and-a-half years.

After the verdict was announced, the blogger said he was relieved.

"Until the very last moment I didn't know what the sentencing would be, that's why I was very nervous and feared I would get a real prison term," he told BBC Russian.

He said he had already apologised to religious believers, adding that the way he delivered his video was "too cynical for Russian society".

Sokolovsky also said he would consult his lawyers about whether he should appeal against the verdict.

Image source, Getty Images
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The blogger played the game despite warnings that doing so in church would be illegal (file picture)

The video from the church built in remembrance of Tsar Nicholas II and his family was posted by Sokolovsky in August 2016, quickly attracting many viewers.

It was published apparently in response to warnings that playing such games in church might have legal consequences.

In the video, Sokolovsky - just before going inside the church - is seen saying that the risk of being arrested is "complete nonsense".

"Who could get offended if you're just walking around with your smartphone in a church?"

What is Pokemon Go?

It's an augmented reality game on smartphones, which uses GPS.

Users play by walking around the real world catching cutesy little virtual monsters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff in places near their phone location and training them to fight each other.

The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy.

What's the weirdest thing that's happened someone playing it?

Oh, take your pick...

An American woman found a body while she was looking for a Pokemon in a river near her home. Police said the man had died within the last 24 hours and no foul play was suspected.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The world you see on your Pokemon Go screen corresponds to the world you see around you

Four people were arrested in Missouri after they used the game to lure players to remote places and then rob them at gunpoint. In response, the makers of Pokemon Go have said people should "play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places" and "remember to be safe and alert at all times".

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in the US is the location of a gym in the game, and players planted a pink "Clefairy" Pokemon called Love is Love there. The church has responded with a series of social media posts calling the Pokemon a sodomite.

There have also been plenty of reports of people falling over and grazing or cutting themselves because they're not paying attention to what's in front of them while they play.