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His callsign is ‘Gandhi’ A former Russian political prisoner explains why he’s dropped nonviolence to fight for Ukraine

Source: Meduza

Ildar Dadin was the first person ever imprisoned in Russia under a criminal statute introduced in 2014 that makes it a felony to attend multiple unpermitted demonstrations. The local press subsequently named the ordinance after him, calling it “the Dadin Statute.” He spent more than a year in prison before he was released following a Constitutional Court ruling that ultimately overturned his sentence but upheld the statute’s legality. Dadin moved to Ukraine in early 2023, and he’s now training to fight in the so-called “Siberian Battalion,” which former Russian intelligence officer Vladislav Ammosov hopes to lead into battle against his old compatriots. In a new interview with the news outlet Mediazona, Dadin explained how he traded a philosophy of nonviolence for belief in the necessity of resisting the Putin regime by force. Meduza summarizes Dadin’s comments.

Dadin told Mediazona that his callsign is “Gandhi” and explained that the Indian icon’s principle of nonviolent struggle inspires him. At the same time, however, Dadin says he’s come to believe he is an accomplice to Russian atrocities in Ukraine if he isn’t willing to kill the perpetrators. Still, he told Mediazona that he hopes to capture the enemy rather than kill, to exchange those Russian prisoners for Ukrainian POWs.

The February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine robbed Dadin of the “moral strength” to achieve anything peacefully in Russia. He says he felt he had only two options: either do what he could inside Russia, ending up dead or back in prison, or go to Ukraine, pick up a gun, and stand against “this terrible evil.” He told Mediazona that he doesn’t understand Russians who merely “step aside and live for themselves.”

Mediazona’s interview with Ildar Dadin

Dadin also faulted Russians for missing the chance during the 2011–2012 opposition protests to “overthrow the Kremlin regime” peacefully. He calls the invasion of Ukraine a consequence of this failure, arguing that “10,000 rebels like me” would have been enough to unseat Putin.

Dadin told Mediazona that he hopes to march into Russia itself as part of a “large armed unit” to confront the Kremlin if the Ukrainians can’t bring the Putin regime to justice after restoring their country’s 1991 borders.

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