The official launch of Pokémon Go in Russia has been delayed indefinitely, but Moscow City Hall promises to release an app by the end of August that’s kind of similar, but instead of stampeding after branded cockfighting critters, users can “catch” “historical figures” like Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Yury Gagarin, Alexander Pushkin, and Russia’s only beloved dead post-punk rock star Viktor Tsoi. But you can’t battle them. And it will only work in Moscow. But you still get to walk around a lot. Nice.
Meanwhile, enough Russians are using foreign-registered accounts to download the app illegitimately that Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor is investigating Pokémon Go for “possible harmful psychological effects.” A state-owned television channel recently aired a special report warning people about how they can go to jail for playing the game.
It’s not the biggest deal right now, but poke enough Russian officials into commenting on a hype thing and you get some really wonderful opinions. “It feels like the devil arrived through [Pokémon Go] and is trying to tear our morality apart from the inside,” said one parliament member. “We need to take people out of the virtual world, and this generally smacks of Satan,” said a leader of a St. Petersburg-based ultraconservative Cossack group. Oh, and my personal favorite—a retired Federal Security Service major general floated the theory that it’s all actually a CIA plot to get Russian soldiers to photograph secret sites and unwittingly harvest information for the American government, hahaha... ha. Hmm.