A Russian YouTube star has been detained for two months and could face up to five years of prison time, reports The Guardian and many other outlets. His crime? Playing Pokémon Go in a church earlier this month. He was arrested under Article 282 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, which prohibits “incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as abasement of human dignity.” It’s the same law which was used to jail two members of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot.
Sokolovsky has filed an appeal, according to the Associated Press. In the video that precipitated his arrest, he stood in front of the Church of All Saints and expressed doubt that he would be arrested, as The Moscow Times translates: “This is complete nonsense ... Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smart phone in a church?” As of this writing, the video is approaching a million views.
It’s not clear yet how this will shake out — at least beyond Sovolsky’s two-month detainment. The head of the religious affairs committee, Jaroslav Nilov, expressed doubt that simply using a phone in a church could constitute an insult.
The spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir Legoyda took more issue with the nature of the video than the precise game, calling Sokolovsky a blogger who “who works in the style of Charlie Hebdo.” It does seem clear that Sokolovsky was looking to challenge the authorities — earlier this summer Russian TV network Rossiya 24 warned specifically that playing Pokémon Go in churches could lead to jail time.