Praise for Sharansky's indomitable spirit on freedom anniversary

By Jennifer Lipman, February 23, 2011
Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky has marked 25 years since he escaped from behind the Iron Curtain.

Mr Sharansky, now the chairman of the Jewish Agency, spent almost ten years in a Siberian gulag as punishment for his political activism.

His lengthy struggle for freedom finally came to an end in February 1986, when he stepped across a bridge in Berlin and was then able to make aliyah to Israel.

When he arrived in Jerusalem he dedicated himself to helping other Soviet Jews and, after being elected to the Knesset in 1995, served as Israel’s deputy prime minister and its interior minister.

The author of a memoir about his time as a political prisoner, his second book The Case for Democracy became a bestseller and was a favourite of President George W Bush .

Speaking at a reception to mark the anniversary, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Mr Sharanksy’s “indomitable spirit”.

He said destiny had chosen wisely in making Mr Sharansky and his wife Avital “symbols of the struggle to free those trapped behind the barbed wires”.

He said: “It couldn’t have picked two better champions to speak on behalf of the many hundreds of thousands whose voices could not be heard.”

Last updated: 12:16pm, February 23 2011