“If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bullshit, that is that. At least for me, there is no God!”
A 38-year-old Russian, Viktor Krasnov, wrote those words in an internet exchange back in 2014 and he risks being jailed for at least one year if convicted under a controverial 2013 legislation that that made it a crime to “insult the religious convictions or feelings of citizens.”
Krasnov was in court in the southern city of Stavropol on Wednesday, March 2.
A lawyer representing Krasnov, Andrei Sabinin, said that Krasnov’s accusers told the court during the closed-door hearing that they want him punished “for his remarks about God.”
A prominent activist group said it is Krasnov whose freedom of conscience is being violated.
The controversial legislation was adopted following the high-profile jailing of members of the band Pussy Riot over a protest in which they burst into Russia’s main cathedral and performed a “punk prayer” urging the Virgin Mary to rid the country of President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has frequently touted what he calls traditional values and has held out the dominant Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority for the country during his third presidential term.
The Sova Center, a Moscow-based group that monitors the use and abuse of extremism legislation, wrote in a 2015 report that it “regard[s] the prosecution against Krasnov as a violation of his right to freedom of conscience.”