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Russian court reduces sentence for blogger who played Pokemon Go in church

July 07, 13:18 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG

During the interrogation of eyewitnesses, the blogger apologized to all worshippers who had complained about being offended

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YEKATERINBURG, July 7. /TASS/. Russia’s Sverdlovsk Regional Court has upheld an appeal against the 3.5-year suspended sentence handed down to blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky for inciting hatred and insulting religious feelings, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

"The sentence handed down by the Verkh-Isetsky District Court should be changed, Article 138.1 (violation of confidentiality of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic or other communications) should be removed. The defendant should be given a suspended sentence of two years and three months," the judge said.

Sokolovsky, in turn, said that he planned to file an appeal against the sentence with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). "We will continue to file appeals, including with the ECHR, until I am acquitted of all charges," he added.

Pokemon catcher’s case

In early August 2016, Sokolovsky filmed a video of himself catching Pokemon in the city of Yekaterinburg’s Church on Blood built on the site, where the last Emperor of Russia Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918. The video stirred up a controversy among believers while a criminal case was initiated in accordance with the Russian Criminal Code’s articles citing incitement to hatred and enmity, denigrating human dignity, as well as violating the right to freedom of conscience and religion.

In October 2016, the blogger was taken to a pre-trial detention center for breaching the terms of his house arrest after the young man had posted a video on the Internet though he had been banned from using the web and mobile communications. His defense attorney filed an appeal against this decision but the Sverdlovsk Regional Court rejected it.

On January 19, a new charge was brought against Sokolovsky under an article citing illicit trafficking in technical equipment, with the intent of covertly collecting information, since a pen containing a small camera had been found during a search of his apartment.

During the interrogation of eyewitnesses, the blogger apologized to all worshippers who had complained about being offended.

On May 11, the Verkh-Isetsky District Court found Sokilovsky guilty of inciting hatred, insulting religious feelings and illegally possessing special technical means - a pen with a video camera, and gave him a 3.5-year suspended sentence.

The blogger was also ordered to delete all the videos that insult the religious feelings of believers and banned him from taking part in mass events.

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