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Pokemon Go: Russian blogger sentenced

Ruslan Sokolovsky (right) during a court hearing. Photo: March 2017

A Russian blogger has been given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in a church

The court in the city of Yekaterinburg found Ruslan Sokolovsky guilty of insulting religious believers and inciting hatred.

During the trial, Sokolovsky, now aged 22, had pleaded not guilty.

He filmed himself playing the popular game in the local Orthodox church in August 2016.

He was arrested shortly afterwards.

On Thursday, Sokolovsky was also found guilty of “illegal trafficking of special technical equipment” after a pen with a built-in video camera had been discovered during the search of his home.

During the trial, the prosecution had asked for Sokolovsky to be jailed for three-and-a-half years.

After the verdict was announced, the blogger said he was relieved.

“Until the very last moment I didn’t know what the sentencing would be, that’s why I was very nervous and feared I would get a real prison term,” he told BBC Russian.

He said he had already apologised to religious believers, adding that the way he delivered his video was “too cynical for Russian society”.

Sokolovsky also said he would consult his lawyers about whether he should appeal against the verdict.

The video from the church built in remembrance of Tsar Nicholas II and his family was posted by Sokolovsky in August 2016, quickly attracting many viewers.

It was published apparently in response to warnings that playing such games in church might have legal consequences.

What is Pokemon Go?

It’s an augmented reality game on smartphones, which uses GPS.

Users play by walking around the real world catching cutesy little virtual monsters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff in places near their phone location and training them to fight each other.

The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy.