Blogger’s lawyer seeks review of criminal code article on "insulting the feelings of believers"

posted 21 Mar 2016, 08:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Mar 2016, 08:39 ]
14 March 2016

Source: (info)
The lawyer of blogger Viktor Krasnov, on trial for his comment "There is no God!" on the social network 'Vkontakte', has applied to a magistrate for a judicial request to be sent to the Constitutional Court seeking a review of Article 148 of the Criminal Code (insulting the feelings of believers) in terms of its accordance with the Basic Law.

Kommersant writes that according to the defence lawyer, Andrei Sabinin, the current drafting of Article 148 violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression, since the concept of 'insult' in that article is not defined in any way.

"For instance, the very denial of religion and God itself is insulting to some believers," noted the lawyer.

In addition, the petition makes reference to Ruling No. 11 of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of 28 June 2011, 'On judicial practice in criminal cases involving extremist offences'.

That ruling states that criticism of political or religious organisations may not be regarded, in and of itself, as an action "intended to incite hatred or enmity".

In light of the above, Sabinin is calling for the article on insulting the feelings of believers to be declared unconstitutional.

The case against the blogger Krasnov was instigated for several comments left on the VK Community 'Overheard in Stavropol' in October 2014. In the course of an argument with users of the social network he wrote, "There is no God", and called the Bible "a collection of European fairy tales". Following that, his opponents took up the matter with the police.

At the end of 2015 Krasnov was formally charged under Article 148, Part I, of the Criminal Code. Three experts (two psychologists and a linguist) from the North Caucasus Regional Centre for Forensic Enquiry of the Ministry of Justice carried out a pyschological and linguistic assessment of materials of the case. writes that the journalist Denis Yatsuko, who wrote an article about the Krasnov case, has shown those experts to be totally incompetent.

In particular, the linguist identified 'Pessah' [Passover, erroneously spelled by Krasnov as ‘Peisakh’] as the prepositional case of the word 'peisy' [sidelocks].

The investigators forcibly sectioned the blogger for a month. The psychiatric examination found him mentally fit.

The law criminalising actions that insult the feelings of believers was adopted by the State Duma in June 2013. On 11 April the President's Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, had said that Vladimir Putin welcomed the idea of a law that would criminalise the insulting of religious feelings. "This is a very difficult law to implement, yet it is vital in our multinational, multiconfessional country," said Peskov.

Translated by Lindsay Munford