Russian man faces prison for denying existence of God in online message

He has allegedly been charged under controversial anti-blasphemy laws passed after Pussy Riot's protest

Siobhan Fenton
Thursday 03 March 2016 16:47
The Russian national flag
The Russian national flag

A Russian man is facing prison after he posted a message online stating that “there is no God.”

Viktor Krasnov, 38, has reportedly been arrested under anti-blasphemy laws which were introduced after the punk art group Pussy Riot’s controversial performance protesting Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in 2013.

The law has been criticised by human rights campaigners who argue that it amounts to an unnecessary restriction on civil liberty. The Russian government has argued that the anti-blasphemy laws protect minority religious groups and prevent religious conflicts.

According to Krasnov, the charges relate to a 2014 online exchange in which he discussed religion. He says he posted: “If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bulls***, that is that. At least for me, there is no God!”

Another person involved in the online discussion subsequently reported Krasnov under the anti-blasphemy legislation for “offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers.”

Krasnov then reportedly spent one month in a psychiatric ward for a prolonged assessment to establish whether he was sufficiently mentally fit to stand trial.

He appeared in court on Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph reports. If found guilty, he faces up to a year in prison.

Krasnov’s lawyer told AFP that he was “simply an atheist” and had been critical of both “Halloween and Yiddish holidays” in the online exchanges.

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