So here's an interesting case study in what can happen when you don't have proper separation of church and state. A young Russian YouTuber by the name Ruslan Sokolovsky filmed himself playing Pokemon Go in a church last August.
No big deal, right? Back in August probably half of you reading this were playing Pokemon Go while sitting in a pew (or a restaurant, or graveyard, or park, or car), but the Russian Orthodox Church didn't find it very amusing. In fact, Russian authorities got involved, and Sokolovsky was detained.
Sokolovsky was detained for two months after the situation ended up snow-balling, and his nightmare has yet to end. His trial officially kicked off yesterday and, if convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison. So what exactly is he being charged with: camping at a gym? Using a GPS glitch to defend a gym illegitimately?
No, Sokolovsky's apparent crime is inciting hatred and offending religious sensitivities (whatever that means). Russian authorities deemed his video as "extremist." It's that same video we linked below. You can watch it for yourself and see if you pick up on any extremist tones or propaganda we may have missed out on. From what we can tell, this is a dude who simply has no respect for the Russian Orthodox Church, and he doesn't mind saying that outright.
“The Russian Orthodox Church is asking for a public repentance. I don’t see why I should repent in front of an organization I do not like,” said Sokolovsky (via HeatStreet). He did mention, however, that he would be open to performing some kind of charitable service if it appeased the church, “because I would be helping specific people and not the Church.”
From what we can tell, it seems like public opinion is on Sokolovsky's side as well. Yekaterinburg mayor (where the church in the video resides) Yevgeny Roizman spoke out in condemnation of the charges, calling them a disgrace. He noted that you can't "arrest a man for idiocy." Not the most flattering defense, but one Sokolovsky probably appreciates anyway.
We'll be keeping an eye on the case and keep you guys updated with how it turns out, so stay tuned.