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Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky is Convicted by Soviet Union, 1978

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

On This Day in Jewish History: July 14th, 1978




Anatoly (Natan) Sharansky was found guilty by the Soviet Union of "espionage and treason" and sentenced to 3 years in prison followed by 10 years in a forced labor camp #othisday.


Anatoly Sharansky is a former Soviet refusenik and Israeli politician who spent nine years in Russian prison and labor camp before being released, gaining international support for the Jews stuck in Soviet Russia, and making Aliyah to Israel.


Sharanksy has spent his life involved with human rights activism, specifically for Soviet Jewry.

In 1973, Sharanksy tried to make Aliyah but was denied by the Russian government because of "security concerns." This changed his outlook and caused him to become more involved in the refusenik movement.


Refuseniks were Jews who applied for an exit permit from Russia but were denied for seemingly no good reason. They were fired from their jobs, often as engineers, and forced to obtain menial work. Yet none of these matters stopped them from their mission of moving to Israel. They simply refused.


In 1977, Sharansky was arrested for "high treason" and spying for the US. In 1978, #onthisday Sharansky was found guilty. He spent the first sixteen months of his sentence in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, often in a special tortue cell, before being transferred to the Siberian gulag.


His wife advocated for Sharansky from Israel and after years of outcry from the world and efforts by diplomats, Sharansky was released in a prisoner exchange in 1986 as the first prisoner released by Mikhail Gorbachev.


Upon his release, he was met by the Israeli Ambassador and handed an Israeli passport. When he arrived in Israel he was welcomed by Prime Minister Shimon Peres. In Israel, he continued to be an advocate for Soviet Jewry. He was the president of the Zionist Forum and he started a political party, Yisrael b’Aliyah, which focused on helping immigrants settle in Israel. He was a member of Knesset for ten years and served as the chairman for the @jewishagency for Israel. Currently, Natan Sharansky serves as the Chairman of the Institute of the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP).



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