A video blogger on Thursday has been declared to be guilty by a Russian court as he was trying to spread hatred against believers by posting videos online showing him chasing Pokemons in achurch. Declaring him guilty the court has given him a suspended sentence.
A militant atheist namely Ruslan Sokolovsky posted thevideos on his YouTube channel and was detained in August 2016 andspent nine months in jail and under house arrest.
The case, heard in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, highlighted the role of the powerful Orthodox Church and sparked comparisons with the scandalous case that saw members of the Pussy Riot punk group sent to prison for a performance critical of President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.
Sokolovsky, who was born in 1994, was accused of "blasphemy" by the Church after he filmed himself inYekaterinburg's famous Church on the Blood zapping Pokemons on his smartphone and swearing, as well as saying Pokemons wereeasier to find there than Jesus.
Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak convicted him on three charges, including inciting hatred and violating believers'rights.Also Read: Denuclearising North Korea is ‘common goal’ for Xi, Moon
"Aggregating all offences, the court sentences (Sokolovsky) to three years and six months of prison. Thepunishment is suspended, with a probationary period of threeyears," Shoponyak said in a packed court room.
The court agreed with the prosecution that a number ofvideos on Sokolovsky's channel hurt the feelings of religiouspeople and incited hatred against them by comparing JesusChrist to a zombie, saying that God does not exist and arguingthat Russia is an obscurantist country.
His statements "confuse citizens" and are "disrespectfulof society," Shoponyak said during the three-hour-longverdict. "These actions are extremist actions," she said of hisvideo postings.
The decision to give Sokolovsky a suspended sentence andfree him from house arrest, where he had been currently held,were met with claps and sighs of relief in the courtroom.
"I thought I would die and not see him again," his mothersaid after the hearing.Also Read: Sikh man's murder in US being probed as possible hate crime
"Thank you everybody." Sokolovsky during the trial pleaded not guilty andrefused to testify. In a passionate final statement, he said he is "anatheist, a cosmopolitan and a libertarian" and did not want toprevent anyone from practising their religion.
Amnesty International called him a prisoner of conscienceand had urged Russia to release him.