Sokolovsky charges of God denial “absurd” – Federation of Jewish communities

Yekaterinburg file photo

MOSCOW. May 11 (Interfax) – The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) backed the court ruling in the case against the “Pokemon catcher” Ruslan Sokolovsky, but called some of the charges against him absurd.

“That the judge chose a penalty not involving incarceration is, in my view, a positive fact because prison has not yet made anyone better. Whenever  there is a possibility not to send people to prison, it is better not to,” Boruch Gorin, head of the FJCR public relations department, told Interfax on Thursday.

He said that he had been following the trial and there “were some shocking things,” including the suggestion that Sokolovsky “expressed doubts about the existence of God, thereby violating some article.”

“This is absurd and in fact quite provocative, including for the religious conscience. If doubts about the existence of God or religious values become a criminal offence, this will cause irreparable damage to the missionary activity, it is a blow to the religion. People have never been bludgeoned yet into believing God,” Gorin said.

Reasoning about public order violation and provocative activities should be left to the lawyers, “but that the accused denies the existence of Jesus and the prophet Muhammad and thus commits the crime under Article 148 part one, that is Kafka,” Gorin said.

“That is one of the ‘red flags’ for what has long been an explosive relationship between society and religion. At some stage we had religious values taking the place of the national idea and now turning gradually into a national idea akin to the Communist one where the very fact of doubting the future of Communism was enough for the person to find themselves in trouble for anti-Soviet activity,” Gorin said.

The criminal offense of not following a religious doctrine is a disgrace, he said.

“It is a disgrace that people in the street will be afraid of expressing their attitude towards the existence of God because there could be [a trial by] some secular court that understands nothing about it,” the FJCR representative said.