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Russian Denies God's Existence, Could Face Prison

A Russian man could spend a year in prison for denying the existence of God in an online chat room.

Viktor Krasnov, 38, called the Bible a "collection of Jewish fairytales" before adding, "there is no God!" according to Agence France-Presse. That was in 2014, in a chat room embedded on VKontakte, a Russian-based social media network that is that country's equivalent of Facebook.

Two of the other people in the chat room at the time lodged a complaint with Russian authorities, and now Krasnov finds himself charged under a 2013 law passed in response to the protest punk rock group Pussy Riot's performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

Three women from the group were sentenced to two years in prison for the stunt, in which they criticized religion, Russian President Vladimir Putin and sexism. The case drew international attention and resulted in criticism of the Russian government over its heavy-handed approach to stifling political speech.

The official charge against Krasnov is "offending believers' feelings," according to NBC News.

Before his trial began, Krasnov was put in a psychiatric ward for a month so Russian doctors could determine if he was sane and fit for trial. He was declared sane, reports NBC News, and he was in court on March 2.

"I did not intend to insult anyone, speaking my mind not in a church or any sort of religious community, but in an amusing community, where religious questions are never discussed," Krasnov said, according to The Huffington Post.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe's Russian-language edition, Krasnov said Orthodox Christians in his country have issued death threats against him and his family. Russian police weren't sympathetic when he went to them for help.

"When you are killed, then come," Russian police allegedly told Krasnov.

"I don't know how you can treat social networking posts seriously," Krasnov said, according to an NBC report that quoted Russian site "Looks like we need a law to protect atheists' feelings too."

Sources: AFP via The Guardian, NBC News, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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