A Russian court may prosecute a man for blasphemy after he offended Orthodox Christians when he wrote, “There is no God” in a 2014 webchat.
“If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bullshit, that is that,” wrote Viktor Krasnov. “At least for me, there is no God!” he added.
Authorities plan to prosecute him under a controversial 2013 law that sentences people to three years in jail for “offending religious feelings.” Parliament passed the law after punk band Pussy Riot landed in jail for their performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral.
A person involved in the discussion immediately filed a complaint against Krasnov, “accusing him of ‘offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers.'”
He “spent one month in a psychiatric ward last year undergoing psychiatric examinations before he was finally deemed to be sane.”
The law states that a person can be sentenced to a year in jail if he intentionally offends “religious sensibilities” in the public. The sentence may increase to three years if he desecrates “religious sites and paraphernalia.”
“We are not talking about the subjective term ‘religious offense,’ which is admittedly difficult to qualify. The law only punishes public acts that obviously go out of their way to insult a religion,” said Mikhail Markelov, member of the United Russia party.
In 2014, 200 well-known authors “signed an open letter condemning Russia’s anti-gay and blasphemy laws.” They claimed they “cannot stand idly by” as Russia prosecutes its writers.
“The chokehold that the Russian Federation has placed on freedom of expression is deeply worrying and needs to be addressed in order to bring about a healthy democracy in Russia,” exclaimed Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses.
Last March, the Russian culture minister fired Boris Mezdich, the head of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre after he “staged his own interpretation of Wagner’s 1845 Tannhäuser opera, which featured what is described as a ‘controversial’ view of Jesus.” They issued posters with “an image of a crucifixion between a naked woman’s legs.”
The Russian Orthodox Church condemned the opera and images. Officials called it a “desecration of a symbol revered by Christians.”
Orthodox Christian activists smashed sculptures by a Russian sculptor after the group called them “blasphemous” in August.
“Delusional people came to the exhibition who broke several works belonging to the Manege collection, by Vadim Sidur,” cried Yelena Karneyeva, a spokeswoman for the Manege art centre. “Several sculptures are completely smashed.”