All you Yankees will grip your American-given, First Amendment privileges a little tighter after reading this:
Viktor Krasnov, a 38-year-old blogger and unemployed nurse in Stavropol, Russia, appeared in court Wednesday to face charges that he “offend[ed] the sentiments of Orthodox believers” by writing, among other things, “There is no God!” on a “humorous local website,” the AFP reports.
The criminal complaint against Krasnov was filed by a fellow Russian engaged in the online conversation, which took place in 2014. The defendant — “simply an atheist,” according to his lawyer — also wrote in the same exchange: “If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bull****, that is that. At least for me.”
Krasnov’s trial is finally underway after a 2015 stint in a psychiatric facility, where he was found to be sane. If convicted, Krasnov faces up to a year in prison.
Reports are that the blogging defendant is being prosecuted under laws passed after members of the punk band Pussy Riot were imprisoned in 2012 for “hooliganism,” which the Russian Criminal Code defines as “a gross violation of public order, clearly expressing contempt for society.”
This isn’t just a Russian thing. A man in Scotland was arrested last month by British police for “offensive” Facebook comments criticizing the country’s acceptance of Syrian refugees. And last week, a Saudi Arabian man was convicted of posting 600 “atheist” tweets. According to RT.com, his sentence includes 10 years of imprisonment, a $5,300 fine, and 2,000 lashes.