Lawmakers Slam Blog Post on Alexy's Death

Renowned designer and Russian Internet personality Artemy Lebedev has outraged senior lawmakers and Russian Orthodox Church officials with an ironic blog post about last week's death of Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II.

In a blog post last week, Lebedev said a decree issued by President Dmitry Medvedev calling on television channels and radio stations to cancel entertainment programs after Alexy's death Friday was an "insult" to his "atheist sensibilities."

He posted a photo of Alexy under the caption: "Suddenly Called to the Boss' Office."

The post quickly became one of the links most frequented in the Russian blogosphere and caught the attention of senior lawmakers and clergy.

Communist State Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin accused Lebedev of fomenting religious discord and called for him to be prosecuted, Regions.ru reported.

Ilyukhin was joined in condemning Lebedev by Boris Reznik, deputy head of the Duma's Information Policy Committee, and Federation Council Senators Vladimir Gusev and Husein Chechenov.

Neither the lawmakers nor Lebedev could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Outspoken Orthodox cleric Andrei Kurayev called Lebedev a "Satanist … in whom Christianity causes spasms of madness," Regions.ru reported.

Authorities have cracked down on bloggers and Internet users in recent years for incendiary web posts.

In July, blogger Savva Terentyev was convicted of inciting social hatred and handed a one-year suspended sentence for a blog entry in which he called for police officers to be burned on public squares "like in Auschwitz."

Museums tackling religious topics have also faced prosecution for exhibits deemed insulting by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2005, Yury Samodurov, then curator of the Sakharov Museum, was convicted and fined by the Tagansky District Court on charges of inciting religious hatred with an exhibit called "Caution, Religion!" that Samodurov said was a warning against religious fanaticism.