Viktor Krasnov, 38, a man in southern Russia, faced a potential jail term of one year for hurting the sentiments of religious believers in an exchange over the Internet where he reportedly said that “there is no God.”
Krasnov appeared before the court on Wednesday and was being tried under a controversial law that was introduced in 2013. The law came into being after two members of a punk art group called “Pussy Riots” were jailed for a performance at Moscow’s main cathedral, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in 2012. The performance involved an anti-Vladimir Putin song.
The alleged reference to God was made by Krasnov in 2014 over an Internet exchange on a humorous local website in Stavropol, his hometown, the Guardian reported.
“If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bullshit, that is that. At least for me,” Krasnov wrote, and later added, “there is no God!”
According to the local magistrate’s website, Krasnov’s offensive comments have been deleted and is now being tried in a local court. According to his lawyer, Andrei Sabinin, the case against him was filed in the fall of 2015 and the trial began on Monday.
Krasnov was charged for “offending believers’ feelings” by Russia’s Investigative Committee, which is an equivalent of the FBI in the US.
Anti-government news website Grani.ru reported on Tuesday that Krasnov was subjected to forcible psychiatric check for a month during the investigation. According to the news website, the tests declared him sane.
“I don’t know how you can treat social networking posts seriously,” Grani.ru cited Krasnov as saying. “Looks like we need a law to protect atheists’ feelings too.”
The NBC News reported that Russia has prosecuted dozens of people for alleged internet activities in recent years. The country received the “non-free” grade by the Freedom House rights watchdog in 2015 due to this, on the “Freedom on the net” rating.