Rus­sian church ac­cuses blog­ger of blas­phemy over ‘Poke­mon Go’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RUS­SIA’S in­flu­en­tial Ortho­dox Church ac­cused a blog­ger of blas­phemy as he faces up to five years in prison for film­ing him­self play­ing Poke­mon Go in a church.

Rus­lan Sokolovsky from the Urals city of Yeka­ter­in­burg is in de­ten­tion after be­ing charged with of­fend­ing re­li­gious be­liev­ers and in­cit­ing ha­tred, over a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 1 mil­lion times.

The 21-year-old video blog­ger filmed him­self in Yeka­ter­in­burg’s Church on the Blood, built on the spot where in 1918 the Bol­she­viks shot the last czar and his fam­ily.

The case is mak­ing waves in Rus­sia – where the Ortho­dox Church has close ties to the au­thor­i­ties – and has prompted com­par­isons with the Pussy Riot group whose 2012 per­for­mance in a Moscow cathe­dral led to twoyear jail terms.

In the video posted on Au­gust 11, Mr Sokolovsky zaps Poke­mons on a smart­phone in front of the al­tar and swears – while also com­par­ing Je­sus to a Poke­mon.

The video blog­ger has been re­manded in cus­tody for two months and is ap­peal­ing against his ar­rest.

The Rus­sian Ortho­dox dio­cese of Yeka­ter­in­burg is­sued an edict on the Church’s po­si­tion, say­ing the blog­ger de­lib­er­ately com­mit­ted “blas­phemy in a holy place”.

The Church said his ac­tions prompted “protests by be­liev­ers na­tion­wide” and “must be de­ci­sively checked in strict ac­cor­dance with the coun­try’s laws”.

Those who urged for­give­ness and called on the au­thor­i­ties to re­lease Mr Sokolovsky “are con­fus­ing Chris­tian uni­ver­sal for­give­ness with the Stock­holm Syn­drome, where prison­ers iden­tify with their cap­tors”, the state­ment said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have ap­plied the harsh­est pos­si­ble le­gal def­i­ni­tion on Mr Sokolovsky’s ac­tions un­der con­tro­ver­sial leg­is­la­tion brought in after the Pussy Riot case, which sparked con­dem­na­tion of Rus­sia.

The sit­u­a­tion could now get even worse for the blog­ger after of­fi­cials sug­gested they could slap an ex­tra crim­i­nal charge on him as in­ves­ti­ga­tors said that while search­ing his home and of­fice they found a “spy pen” for mak­ing covert record­ings.

The Church’s re­ac­tion was un­ex­pect­edly harsh, how­ever, con­sid­er­ing that the Metropoli­tan Kir­ill who heads the Yeka­ter­in­burg dio­cese said ear­lier this week, “We don’t want his blood.”

Mr Sokolovsky, who cre­ates videos about his athe­ist views and pub­lishes a magazine called Noth­ing Sa­cred, has re­fused to tes­tify, cit­ing his con­sti­tu­tional right, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. –

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