When they said he couldn't protest, he protested anyway.
He demonstrated in support of LGBT rights.
He demonstrated in support of Aleksei Navalny. He demonstrated in support of Nadia Savchenko. And he demonstrated in opposition to the war in Ukraine.
He held a series of lonely one-man pickets, holding signs with slogans like "Putin is an enemy of the people."
When they sent him to a labor camp and tortured him repeatedly, he exposed them.
In a letter to his wife, he detailed the systematic abuse he endured at the hands of prison officials.
And when that letter was published, it created a national scandal.
And in the end, Ildar Dadin won when the Russian Supreme Court ordered his release.
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If Russia ever becomes a law-based state; if we ever see the day when freedom of expression, human rights, and basic human dignity are ever respected there; we will probably point to the moment Dadin walked out of a Siberian prison as a watershed moment.
Because that was the moment when it became clear that an ordinary man who refused to be a victim can stand up to Vladimir Putin's regime, endure its worst abuses, and walk away a free man.
Over the past several months, Dadin became Russia's most important dissident.
And now that he has been freed, he has become a symbol and an example that resistance is possible.
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