Russia's human rights activists responds to a bill criminalizing insult of religious feelings and desecration of holy places that has been submitted to the State Duma today.
Human rights veteran defender, For Human Rights movement leader Lev Ponomaryov has called dangerous for a secular state the bill, which punishes insulting of religious feelings with up to five years in prison.
"I fear they may ban Darwin's Theory next," Ponomaryov told Interfax on Wednesday.
"It would be only natural now to cross out references to Darwinism from school textbooks. These things are interconnected. There is no doubt that Darwin insults feelings of believers," he said.
"I do not know what we, poor atheists, should do. If I make a T-shirt imprint, "There is no God," I will be beaten and jailed for three years," Ponomaryov said.
"Such a law is impermissible in a secular state. Why make it a criminal offense, not an administrative one? I am laughing so far but we will be crying soon," he added.
"It is hard to predict what may happen next. Maybe the next law will compel everyone who passes by a church to bow and cross oneself. If a person does not do that, Cossacks standing nearby will drag him to a police station. I am afraid this is not a fantasy any longer," he said.
In the latest months the State Duma has enacted amendments, which affect the independent civil society, he said.
"They are rocking the boat. The opposition would not have been strong enough to trigger the public protest, which had been started by the series of latest legislative amendments," he said.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin describes the proposed bill as a normal reaction of the parliament to public moods.
"That is an understandable reaction of the State Duma to public feelings about the latest insults of the believers, including the Pussy Riot incident," said a high-ranking source in the Russian Presidential Administration.
"The deputies took into account the public demand, which was proven by the latest opinion polls. The polls showed that 80 percent of Russians supported that idea," he said.
"The deputies also studied international practices. Such countries as Germany, Spain and Finland have legislative acts, which protect rights of believers," the source said.
"That is a normal, natural process," he noted.
It was reported earlier on Wednesday that a bill criminalizing insult of religious feelings and desecration of holy places had been submitted to the State Duma.
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