Pokémon Go-playing Youtube blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky really deserved to do some time
Exit Pussy Riot, enter Ruslan Sokolovsky. Western press has a new Russian martyr to showcase just what a retrograde country Russia is (and therefore how much more advanced the west is by comparison).
His case has been widely covered by the western media (very rare for a domestic Russian affair) and the impression it wants you to have of it is this: Sokolovsky played some Pokemon Go, by happenstance as it were, inside a church, and because he is critical of the government and because of how repressive and insane Russian laws are he faced 3 and a half years in prison for it.
Except that Sokolovsky's main offense wasn't that he played Pokemon Go, but that he entered a church to shoot a video expressing his scorn for Christianity albeit he knew full well he wasn't welcome, if that was his purpose of going there.
The actual laws Sokolovsky broke may be poor laws, but there is no doubt that he made himself an intruder on church property and should face some kind of penalty.
True enough, "offending religious sensibilities" which the court blamed him for is a silly non-crime. A free person is to be free to offend everyone and everything.
However, as he was offending religious sensibilities Sokolovsky was also committing a real crime.
A church building is either the property of the church or of its parishioners and believers. It is open to the public, but only if visitors when inside conduct themselves in a way its owners feels is proper.
A person who enters with a plan to violate the etiquette that the owners demand is a trespasser who should be removed and punished.
This is exactly what Sokolovsky did. The Russian video blogger saw a news segment reminding people they ought not to play Pokemon Go in Orthodox churches. This angered and annoyed the young content creator so much that he picked up his camera, laid out his plan to his viewers, and entered the largest and oldest church in his city, smartphone in hand.
Had he shot his anti-clerical video in his living room and was then fell upon by the Russian judiciary Sokolovsky would be deserving of our sympathy. But that is not what happened.
What happened was that Sokolovsky was offended by the fact the church does not welcome people on their property if all they are going to do is play Pokemon Go — so he threw a pre-planned hissy fit on its property. That makes him a trespasser, and considering he declined to accept that he had done anything wrong can consider himself very lucky he only received a suspended sentence.
- Amnesty International: Russian YouTuber facing prison for playing Pokémon Go
- The Washington Post: Russian blogger convicted for playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in church
- The Guardian: Russian YouTuber convicted for playing Pokémon Go in church
- The New York Times: Russian Blogger Convicted for Playing 'Pokemon Go' in Church
- Radio Free Europe: 'Pokemon Go' Blogger 'Shocked' At Russia's Call For 3 1/2-Year Prison Term
- The Independent: Russian blogger found guilty of inciting religious hatred for playing Pokemon Go in Orthodox church