Sokolovsky’s case: 5 facts about the scandalous pokémon’s catcher

Russian video blogger gets 3,5 years of prison (suspended) for insulting believers’ feelings

Sokolovsky’s case: 5 facts about the scandalous pokémon’s catcher Photo: a video screenshot

Ruslan Sokolovsky has been sentenced for his rash act in the Church of All Saints, Yekaterinburg. A court acknowledged the playing of Pokémon Go in the temple as extremism and insulting the feelings of believers and sentenced the blogger to imprisonment for 3.5 years (suspended) with the probation period of 3 years. Realnoe Vremya has made the top 5 facts about the sensational case, which has led the young man to a real criminal record.

1. He was catching pokémon but caught a criminal case

Video blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, who, by the way, has Tatar roots by paternal side, posted a video in August 2016 where he catches virtual pokemons in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg. Thus the young man responded to the statement reported on Russia 24 Channel that catching pokemons in church can be understood as an insult of feelings of believers. As a result of this act, Sokolovsky has been brought to a criminal case for insulting the feelings of believers and was accused of inciting hatred and trafficking of equipment for a hidden filming due to found during the arrest pen with an integrated camera. On 3 September, the video blogger was sent to prison, but later the punishment was commuted to house arrest.

2. The Yekaterinburg diocese recommended not to confuse Christian forgiveness with Stockholm syndrome

Later, the Yekaterinburg diocese published the statement which said that it decided ''to express sorrow about the hardening of the heart of the young man who dared by his behaviour to cynically abuse the memory of thousands of martyrs for the faith and truth in the period of repressions of the 20th century in order to attract public attention to his person and his activities.''

Archdeacon Andrey Kuraev believes that this sensational case has resulted in negative attitude of believers to the Church, and the Yekaterinburg diocese is to blame for it. Photo: pravoslavie.fm

The diocese has recognized the Sokolovsky's act particularly cynical and expressed hope that he realizes his moral wrongs and will repent of the committed sin the same way as it was committed.

''Everyone who insists that forgiveness and request for release of liability of Ruslan Sokolovsky went from the Church regardless of repentance and correction, we recommend not to confuse Christian forgiveness with Stockholm syndrome, and the Orthodoxy with Tolstoyan movement,'' said in the end of the message.

It ends with the statement that if Sokolovsky does not repent, the diocese will treat his decision with respect and not to impose forcibly Christian love and Christian forgiveness.

Archdeacon Andrey Kuraev also reacted on the incident. He believes that this sensational case has resulted in negative attitude of believers to the Church and the Yekaterinburg diocese is to blame for it. According to him, he is thinking to come to the young man himself and if he wouldn't mind to talk to him.

3. Is it really for playing Pokémon Go?

Well-known minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, a columnist of Realnoe Vremya Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin expressed his opinion on this situation to Realnoe Vremya. In the column written for our publication, he shared his thoughts on the subject of what is the reason why the criminal case was initiated against the video blogger.

Vsevolod Chaplin: ''Here we are speaking about an obvious violation of sacred places that religious people consider more valuable than life.'' Photo: pravmir.ru

''However, Sokolovsky-Saibabtalov did not bother other people. He is not accused of Pokémonomania. After the campaign at church that he announced and considered as provocative, the blogger posted videos where Orthodox chants were parodied with swear words on the Internet. He used a rude word with respect to God. And here we are speaking about an obvious violation of sacred places that religious people consider more valuable than life. People used to go to war or martyrdom for the sake of holy objects and symbols in ancient times and in the 20th century for a reason. It seems that the author of the videos just decided to challenge religious people whether they will withstand it or not…,'' wrote Vsevolod Chaplin.

The case of ''Pokémon catcher'' has actually gained considerable attention, many public people stood in his protection and some of the fans even tried to catch pokémon in other churches.

4. Suspended 3,5 years for denying the existence of Jesus and the prophet Muhammad and the empowerment of Jesus Christ with qualities of walking dead

This story has recently resolved, when the court of Yekaterinburg decided to sentence Sokolovsky to 3.5 years (suspended) with the probation period of 3 years for insulting the feelings of believers, inciting hatred or enmity and trafficking of devices for covert recording. Numerous support group, which did not fit in the courtroom and watched the meeting on live broadcast in the hall, rejoices to the news. Interestingly, in addition to media, friends and fans of Sokolovsky, in the court there also were Russian video bloggers Danil Poperechny and Ruslan Usachev.

No less interesting were the arguments of the experts, on which the judge Yekaterina Shaponyak relied on. Among them there were: ''all the videos contain denial of the existence of God'', ''denied the existence of Jesus and the prophet Mohammed'', ''given Jesus Christ with qualities of the walking dead — zombies'' and ''qualities of pokémons — representatives of the bestiary of Japanese mythology, thereby committed an offence under the article 148 of the criminal code'' and that the young man with the help of this video ''formed the opinion that in Russia there is obscurantism and tyranny''. On the Internet the arguments of the experts received response almost immediately — the phrases were cited generously peppered with sarcastic comments.

5. Without new videos and with an eye to good works in the future

The young man, having heard the verdict, thanked everyone for their participation and said that he plans to pursue higher education, perhaps, at the faculty of journalism, and he will post new videos on his video blog not soon. Having received the probation from the court, Sokolovsky gave reporters an impromptu press conference, during which he shared his future plans. He said that he intends to accept the offer of the mayor of Yekaterinburg Yevgeny Roizman to participate in social projects. ''Roizman asked me to help him in social initiatives, for example, in the construction of a hospice. I have received popularity in media due to courts, I will try to take advantage of it for the good — I will engage in social initiatives to be useful to society,'' Kommersant quoted Sokolovsky.

According to the young man, he would be ''very calm and quiet becaue they can catch me up and put me in prison in real.'' The video blogger also stated that if he receives adequate offers, he will be engaged in ''the production of video content on more legal grounds.''

By Mariya Gorozhaninova
Analytics