Russian atheist faces year in jail for denying existence of God during webchat

A Russian atheist faces a year in prison after denying the existence of God during an online exchange. Photograph: Lawrence Manning/Corbis

A Russian atheist faces a year in prison after denying the existence of God during an online exchange. Photograph: Lawrence Manning/Corbis

Source: The Guardian

Viktor Krasnov being prosecuted under a controversial law after being accused of ‘offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers’

A man in southern Russia faces a potential jail sentence after he was charged with insulting the feelings of religious believers over an internet exchange in which he wrote that “there is no God”.

Viktor Krasnov, 38, who appeared in court Wednesday, is being prosecuted under a controversial 2013 law that was introduced after punk art group Pussy Riots was jailed for a performance in Moscow’s main cathedral, his lawyer Andrei Sabinin told AFP.

The charges – which carry a maximum one-year jail sentence – centre on an internet exchange that Krasnov was involved in in 2014 on a humorous local website in his hometown of Stavropol.

“If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bullshit, that is that. At least for me,” Krasnov wrote, adding later “there is no God!”

One of the young people involved in the dispute with Krasnov then lodged a complaint against him accusing him of “offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers”.

Krasnov, whose case began last month, spent one month in a psychiatric ward last year undergoing psychiatric examinations before he was finally deemed to be sane.

Krasnov’s lawyer insisted to AFP that his client was “simply an atheist” and that he had taken aim at both “Halloween and Yiddish holidays” in the same exchange.



  1. This is a frightening development. The OCA has Russian roots, but that is where it should end. The Russian church seems to be moving further toward the autocratic intolerance under which it suffered for decades.

  2. George D Karcazes on

    This brings into focus the difference between a Church that is “State Sponsored” .. and subject to corruption from the State and Churches that must compete for, and earn the respect and support of its adherents in a “State Separated” country like the US. Corruption in Orthodox churches in the US cannot be blamed on the government, and except when criminal laws are involved cannot be redressed by State action. When corruption occurs in our churches it is up to the faithful to demand, and if necessary, compel the reforms needed to save the institution from itself. When church leaders believe that they are not accountable for their conduct in a State Separated environment they sometimes need to be reminded that the government cannot use tax revenues to repair churches and pay clergy and Hierarchs salaries. Church leaders in the US cannot command obedience by threats of the Gulag or imprisonment. Church leaders in the US like to repeat the canard that “the Church is not a democracy” but they need to understand that where the Church cannot rely on the State to pay the bills and enforce compliance Church leaders must earn the support of the faithful by developing a new style of “leadership”. Leadership by example rather than force. If “the best sermon is a good example” Church leaders from hierarchs and priests to parish, metropolis and archdiocesan council members must set the example by their responses to corruption. If they are not a part of the solution, then they are a part of the problem.

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