Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky

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Natan Sharansky

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Natan Sharansky (born January 20th, 1948) (, (, ) is a former Soviet refusenik and prisoner, Israeli politician, human rights activist and author.


Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky (, ) (later Natan Sharansky) was born in Stalino, Soviet Union on January 20, 1948 to a Jewish family. He graduated with a degree in applied mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. As a child, he was a chess prodigy. He performed in simultaneous and blindfold displays, usually against adults. At the age of 15, he won the championship in his native Donetsk. When incarcerated in solitary confinement, he claims to have played chess against himself in his mind. Sharansky beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition in Israel in 1996.

Natan Sharansky is married to Avital Sharansky, with whom he has two daughters, Rachel and Hannah. In the Soviet Union, his marriage application to Avital was denied by the authorities. They were married in a Moscow synagogue in a ceremony not recognized by the government.

Sharansky was released in February 1986 after serving 3 years of prison and 5 years of strict-regimen forced labor penal colony in Perm Oblast, East Siberia. He was the first political prisoner ever released by Mikhail Gorbachev due to intense political pressure from Ronald Reagan. Sharansky immediately emigrated to Israel. In...
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