February 12

This Day in History

General Interest

Feb 12, 1986:

Scharansky released

After spending eight years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, human rights activist Anatoly Scharansky is released. The amnesty deal was arranged by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan at a summit meeting three months earlier.

Scharansky was imprisoned for his campaign to win the right for Russian Jews, officially forbidden to practice Judaism, to emigrate from the USSR. Convicted of treason and agitation, Soviet authorities also labeled him an American spy. After his release, he immigrated to Israel, where he was given a hero's welcome. Later, as a member of Israel's parliament, he was an outspoken defender of Russian Jews.

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