International relations on any level and between any set of entities can be sticky sometimes, but some things, like mobile apps, can lend themselves to extra scrutiny and suspicion. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Pokemon GO, which has managed to achieve an unprecedented level of success and created numerous headlines. The game's immense popularity and tendency to render its players somewhat unaware of their environment make it a natural candidate for conspiracy theories. In Russia, these conspiracy theories have reached into the highest levels of government, with some going as far as to say that the game has garnered sentiments of ties with the supernatural, and some saying that the app may be part of a foreign psychological operation meant to destabilize Russia.
A senior security official in Russia, Franz Klintsevich, said that some in the country even harbor a "feeling that the devil came through this mechanism" and is trying to spiritually destroy the country. Others who are sharing their suspicions that the game is actually a foreign psy-op are saying that Pokemon GO's influence "could lead all the way to revolution". Even beyond those dramatic claims, there are many who have slightly more believable suspicions that the game may be a tool to collect information from the populace. Even outside of Russia, such sentiments have been thrown around, with some saying that intelligence organizations like the NSA and CIA may have ties to Pokemon GO and be using it to surreptitiously collect all sorts of data beyond what players would normally give the game.
One official spoke on the success of the game's mission, if it is an information gathering tool, saying that it amounts to "recruitment by one's own personal desire and without any coercion". Russian Communist Party Leader Denis Voronenkov even went out on a limb with one possibility, saying that players "could become unsuspecting accomplices in terrorist acts." These fears have driven Russia to release their own take on Pokemon GO, featuring historical figures that can be collected from around Moscow with information about each of those figures, and to impose stiff penalties on some people playing at times and places they shouldn't, depending on exactly where they are.