Natan Sharansky

Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky, by the time of his release from Soviet prison in February 1986, was known the world over as a leader in the fight for human rights in the USSR and a fearless advocate for Jewish emigration. Emerging in the early 1970s as a spokesman for Soviet Jews, he quickly became the subject of constant KGB attention. Arrested in March 1977 on charges of “treason” and “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” he was sentenced to 13 years in prison and labor camps. His early release—after nearly nine years in prison—came about largely through the efforts of his wife Avital and a multitude of sympathizers around the world. Though his time in Soviet prison was marked by hunger strikes, long spells of solitary confinement, and inadequate medical attention, Mr. Sharansky emerged from the ordeal with the dignity, sense of humor, and idealism that had made him such a thorn in the side of the Soviet authorities in the first place. Fear No Evil, his account of his life in Soviet prison, was published in 1988. Since his release, he has been living in Israel. Mr. Sharansky was a close friend and associate of Andrei Sakharov, whose death on 14 December 1989 was mourned throughout the Soviet Union and the world.