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Russian Court Reduces Sentence In Pokémon Go Case

posted on by Karen Ressler

A court in Yekaterinburg, Russia ruled on Friday to reduce blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky's prison sentence for posting a video of himself playing Pokémon Go in a church. He had previously received a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence after being found guilty of “inciting hatred” and “offending believers' feelings," but the sentence has been cut to two years and three months.

The court reduced the sentence after annulling Sokolovsky's concurrent conviction of "illegal trafficking of special technical equipment." A pen with built-in camera was discovered in Sokolovsky's home

On August 11, the blogger reportedly posted a video that showed him playing the game inside the Church of All Saints. He was charged with "incitement to hatred and attacks on the liberty of faith." The Russian Orthodox Church reportedly said the alleged provocative nature of the video led to Sokolovsky's prosecution rather than the act of playing Pokémon Go. The church where the blogger allegedly played the game is built on the supposed site where Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and his family were killed.

Sokolovsky's trial began in March and he was found guilty in May. Sokolovsky had been in pre-trial detention since October, when a court reversed the house arrest he had been serving at his attorney's apartment.

The U.K. human rights group Amnesty International previously responded to the conviction, saying "Russian authorities have blatantly misused the criminal justice system, including draconian anti-extremist legislation, in a show trial against blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky." Sokolovsky's defense has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

Sources: Moscow Times, RFE/RL

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