Sharansky: From dissident to statesman
-Born on January 20, 1948 in Soviet Ukraine. - Graduated with a degree in mathematics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. - Prominent dissident and spokesman for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s, he applied for a visa to Israel but was refused. Sharansky was highly involved in Jewish refusenik activities. He was arrested in 1977 on charges of treason and spying for the United States, spent 16 months in prison in Moscow, and was later sent to a Siberian prison camp for nine years. - He was released from the gulag in 1986 as part of a prisoner exchange. - Sharansky arrived in Israel on February 11, 1986, where he was greeted by then-prime minister Shimon Peres. - Elected in 1988 to be head of the Zionist Forum, an organization comprised of ex-Soviet Zionists. - In 1995 he established Yisrael b'Aliya, a political party created for the welfare of immigrants, mainly Soviet Jews - The party won seven Knesset seats in the 1996 elections. Sharansky served as Minister of Industry and Trade (1996-1999), Minister of Internal Affairs (1999-2000), Minister of Housing and Construction and Deputy PM (2001-2003). - He is currently a Likud MK. - Sharansky is the author of Fear No Evil: The Classic Memoirs of One Man's Triumph Over a Police State, and The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. He was also an associate editor of The Jerusalem Report. Compiled by Tom Hope
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