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Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine from Moldova. We were talking about Russia. I told him about Ildar Dadin, the political prisoner, whom I’ve written about. And Dadin’s wife, Anastasia Zotova, with whom I’ve done a podcast. I further told him about the law under which Dadin was convicted and imprisoned.
That is Article 212.1 of the Russian Civil Code. If you protest the government three times within six months, without the government’s permission, you are subject to five years in prison (where terrible, sometimes murderous, things occur).
My Moldovan friend said, “If people knew the law, they wouldn’t break it, right? Because no one would want to end up in prison.” Dadin should not have been prosecuted under 212.1, even by the logic of the Russian judicial system. Be that as it may, I’d like to get Biblical.
(This is still permitted, so far as I know.)
You know the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. Other people in the kingdom were terribly envious of him. But they could not hang him on anything, because he did no wrong. They saw one avenue whereby they could get him: his religion. He was a faithful, unswerving Jew.
So they induced the king to sign a decree: Anyone praying to any god or man except the king himself, for the next 30 days, would be thrown into the lions’ den.
And here I will quote: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Daniel knew that the law had been signed. He knew what it said. And he prayed with the windows open, out loud, presumably, for one and all to hear.
I have met dissidents from all over the world. They break laws, they challenge unjust laws, knowing that doing so will land them in trouble. Big trouble. Jail, torture, and all the rest of it. They do it anyway. Why? They often tell me, “I don’t know. I just have to. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.” Their stubbornness for truth and justice — a sometimes crazy, unfathomable stubbornness — upholds us all, somehow, a little bit.