Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of a Russian video-blogger who was sentenced to administrative arrest for two months after posting a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a Russian Orthodox church.
Blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky was arrested on September 3 on charges of “preventing the realization of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and incitement of hatred." If convicted, he could be jailed for up to five years.
The young blogger, who has about 300,000 subscribers on YouTube, played Pokemon Go in a church in early August following a warning made earlier on Russian state television not to catch “pokemons” at religious sites or in proximity to the state border or face criminal charges.
Amnesty blasted Sokolovsy’s arrest as a ” farcical attack on freedom of expression.”
“The absurdity of the case of the Russian blogger jailed for playing Pokemon Go in a church highlights what happens when authorities hold the freedom of expression in such low regard,” said John Dalhuisen, director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
“Even if Sokolovsky’s behavior may have been regarded as disrespectful by some, states should not be jailing people simply for offending religious sensibilities,” Dalhuisen added.
Sokolovsky's supporters have called for his release on social media.