Pokemon GO players already face some dangers in playing the game, such as getting lost and being stranded. But a series of Russian arrests means that fans of the mobile game can also add “run-ins with the law” to that list.
Earlier this week in Moscow, Russia, an unauthorized protest rally was held in the city to celebrate the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution. The protest saw hundreds head to Manzeh Square near the Kremlin to protest against Vladimir Putin and call for the Russian leader to resign.
376 people were arrested for the anti-government protests altogether, but among that figure, there were 18 Pokemon GO players who just say that they were trying to catch ’em all. They say that they were not part of the protests and that it is simply a case of right place, wrong time. One of the arrested players, Polina, told a local newspaper that, “We showed [police] that we’re all really trying to catch Pokémons. Police asked us why we all gathered together. One of us answered. ‘Try catching it on your own.'”
"Revolution" circa 2017: One of the protesters detained outside the Kremlin is catching Pokemon in the police van. Via @mynameisphilipp pic.twitter.com/EXysWjHsry
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) November 5, 2017
The 18 arrested players will face court hearings next week and they could see fines of 20,000 rubles (~$340) for violating public assembly rules. This possible fine didn’t seem to bother everyone in the group, though, as one player was seen continuing to play Pokemon GO in the back of the police van.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the judges will sympathize with the players. From the comments made by the arrested players to the press, it seems that the 18 were just trying to make use of the Pokemon GO raid system. Although solo raids can be done, as Polina noted, that can be difficult which is why the players were grouped together at the time of the protests. But the judges may not hear the players out when they explain this.
The arrests are just the latest example of negative Russian attitudes towards the game. Famously, a Russian blogger received a suspended sentence after filming himself playing Pokemon GO in a church. The story became international news and even The Simpsons parodied the arrest in an episode (which unsurprisingly was banned in Russia).
It was also Pokemon GO players in Moscow that helped to uncover a Russian cyberweapon, which also won’t have left authorities pleased. This may not have been enough for a ban, though some players may fear that more arrests may be on the cards if authorities’ concerns about the mobile game continue to grow.
Pokemon GO is out now on Android and iOS.
Source: The Moscow Times