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Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

The Hon. Natan Sharansky

The Honorable Natan Sharansky is an Israeli statesman, human rights activist, and author. Born in the Soviet Union, Sharansky was refused an exit visa to Israel in 1973, after which he became an active dissident and human rights activist, working as a translator for Andrei Sakharov, a spokesman for the Moscow Helsinski Group, and a defender of his fellow “refuseniks” (Soviet Jews who had been denied exit visas). For his extivism, Sharansky was arrested in 1977 and jailed for nine years, including time in the Gulag-style “strict regimen colony” labor camp Perm 35. After an international campaign led by his wife Avital, Sharansky was released in 1986, and emigrated to Israel. Sharansky was cofounder of the political party Yisrael BaAliyah, which represented Soviet Jews in Israel, and between 1996 and 2005, he served in a number of ministerial positions in the Israeli government, both under Yisrael BaAliyah’s banner and Likud’s. He is the author of Fear No Evil, a memoir of his imprisonment, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror, and Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy.