Russian prosecutors seek 3½ years for blogger who played ‘Pokemon Go’ in church

Ruslan Sokolovsky/YouTube

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian prosecutors requested a 3½ year prison sentence Friday for a blogger charged with inciting religious hatred for playing “Pokemon Go” in a church.

Prosecutors made the request as the trial of Ruslan Sokolovsky, 22, wrapped up in the city of Yekaterinburg. A judge said a verdict in the case would be issued May 11.

Sokolovsky posted a video on his blog showing him playing the smartphone game in a church built on the supposed spot where the last Russian tsar and his family were killed. He has been in detention since October.

He is charged with inciting religious hatred. It is the same offense that sent two women from the Pussy Riot punk collective to prison for two years in 2012.

FILE – In this Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 file photo, handcuffed blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky is escorted by police officers in a court building in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Russian prosecutors are demanding that a blogger spend 3½ years in prison for playing “Pokemon Go” in a church. The trial of Ruslan Sokolovsky wrapped up Friday, April 28, 2017 in the city of Yekaterinburg. The judge said a verdict would be issued May 11. (AP Photo/Vladimir Zhabrikov, file)

“Honestly, I’m really in shock that the state prosecutors asked for 3 ½ years,” particularly because it wasn’t a violent offense, Sokolovsky was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

He said he is studying and working and could lose everything, if he is sent to prison.

The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted his lawyer, Alexei Bushmakov, saying he hoped for acquittal or a suspended sentence.

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