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Russia seeks prison sentence for church Pokemon hunter

Mascot Pikachu of the Pokemon Go virtual reality game, which has become a worldwide sensation © AFP / Roslan RAHMAN

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, Apr 28 – Russian prosecutors on Friday called for a three-and-a-half year jail sentence for a blogger who hunted Pokemons in church, in a case that has drawn ire from rights activists.

Ruslan Sokolovsky posted a YouTube video in August 2016 showing him playing Pokemon Go on his phone in a Russian Orthodox church in the central city of Yekaterinburg that was viewed more than 1.7 million times.

The militant atheist — dubbed a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International — was detained and charged under controversial legislation for “inciting hatred” and “insulting the feelings of religious believers” before being put on trial.

“There are no grounds to let the defendant go unpunished,” Russian news agencies quoted a prosecutor as saying in court.

“I ask for a punishment of three years and six months of imprisonment for all crimes.”

Sokolovsky’s harsh treatment has drawn comparisons with the jailing of the Pussy Riot performance artists after they staged a punk performance in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

The case has once again highlighted the power of the Russian Orthodox Church under the conservative rule of President Vladimir Putin.

The court said the verdict in Sokolovsky’s case will be delivered on May 11, agencies reported.

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