Russian poet faces criminal charges for calling atheists 'despicable' in alleged hate-speech

A Russian poet is facing criminal prosecution for hate speech after calling atheists 'despicable' in a poem published online, and inciting violence against the group.

Amateur poet Maksim Drozdov, of Russia's southern Krasnodar Region, said he hoped for a return to the Holy Inquisition – the medieval Catholic practice associated with the torture of heretics – in poems published on social media in May, that have since been removed.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Krasnodar - the region from which amateur poet Maksim Drozdov hails.Wikimedia Commons

Drozdov's defence lawyer Aleksy Avanesyan said Drozdov, who was charged earlier this month, faces charges under article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, which prohibits disseminating hatred, strife or insulting the dignity of representatives of any social group, according to Newsline.

In a statement on Wednesday, the regional directorate of the Investigative Committee – Russia's main federal investigating authority – said: 'According to investigators, in May this year the man posted a poem on a social-media network that was extreme in its content.

'Linguistic research concluded that the published text contained some negative statements about a group of citizens who are united in their attitude to religion, and it calls for hostile action towards these citizens.'

Drozdov had told investigators that his poem was not intended as an insult to anyone, only as a work of satire, according to Avanesyan.