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12-02-1986

Scharansky released

After spending eight years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, human rights activist Anatoly Scharansky is released. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan arranged the amnesty deal at a summit meeting three months earlier. Scharansky was imprisoned for his campaign to win the right for Russian Jews, who were 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.