Vladimir Kara-Murza is vice-chairman of Open Russia, an international Russian pro-democracy movement. He was poisoned twice by Russian operatives, in 2015 and again in February of 2017. Both times he fell into a coma and suffered multiple organ failure, but survived both attempts to kill him.
Mikail Kordorkovsky, head of Russia’s largest oil company called Yukos, openly criticized corruption in Russian at a televised meeting of oligarchs in February 2003. He used his vast fortune to oppose Putin’s regime. In October of 2003, Khodorkovsky was arrested and accused of fraud and tax evasion. He was jailed for ten years, his oil company was seized in 2004 and auctioned off for pennies to the Kremlin oil company Rosneft.
Now, Kordorkovsky, living in exile, is the chairman of Open Russia.
There’s just one message: “Enough.” There is now an entire generation of Russians who have no memory of any other government than Vladimir Putin. You have had four presidents in the last 17 years; we‘ve just had that one guy. We’ve also had censorship in media, we’ve had mammoth corruption, we’ve had the absence of free and fair elections, and just the basic freedoms that other countries take for granted. This generation has had enough of it. (Vladimir Kara-Murza on Rachel Maddow, 4/28/17*)
Members of Open Russia decided to hold a nation-wide protest against Putin on April 29th, but the day before the protest occurred, the Putin government banned the protest as disruptive. The Open Russia response: “See you on the 29th.” Open Russia protested across many cities; dozens, including journalists, in many of those cities were detained.
This, of course, is the opposite of freedom.
As I look at our own country, I sometimes think our own freedoms are in danger: immigrant and refugee rights, women’s rights, racial judicial rights, journalistic rights, voting rights, health care rights, equal education rights, taxation rights. Yes, we are a far cry from Putin’s Russia, but we must be vigilant. It is when we ignore the slow drip of removal of these rights that we discover down the line we have lost them.
However, whatever political ideas I ascribe to, I must stay aware of the Spirit abiding in me. How else can I see and think clearly? How else can I stay internally free and at peace when division and chaos reigns externally? How else can I extend grace to our president who, after 100 days in office, is coming to the humbling recognition that the job of POTUS is not an easy one. It is the exact recognition that came to President John F. Kennedy when he admitted to Dwight D. Eisenhower, visiting him at Camp David around his 100 day mark, “No one knows how tough this job is until he’s been in it a few months.”
When I live in the Spirit, I become humble. I become thankful. I become a purveyor of grace. For me, the gift of humility, thankfulness and grace give me the power to be free. How else can I stay conscious of the freedom I have in Christ?
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. The Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Christ has made us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish laws and ceremonies. You have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. (John 8:36; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1;15:13)
*The full interview