- Category : 1948-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Small (16,20)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 4
Russian activist and human rights advocate. His arrest and imprisonment at the hands of the KGB was detailed in the 1988 release of his book, "Fear No Evil."
The son of a Communist Party member who worked on the Party newspaper, as a youth, Shcharansky was a Komsomol member. From 1966 to 1972, he studied mathematics and computer programming, and he graduated with a degree in Computer Sciences from the Physical Technical Institute in Moscow. He worked in Moscow as a computer specialist for the Institute of Oil and Gas for a time, but in 1973, he applied for permission to immigrate to Israel. His request brought an onslaught of harassment from the KGB, and in 1975, he was fired from his job.
Fluent in English, Shcharansky became a spokesperson for the dissidents and refuseniks in his country and contacted many Western correspondents in an effort to further the cause. On 3/15/1977, the KGB arrested him and accused him of espionage and treason. In 1978, he was secretly put on trial, found guilty of the groundless charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison. On 2/11/1986, after pleas from then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, he was released in a prisoner exchange and allowed to go to Israel. A few months later, his mother, brother and his brother’s family were allowed to emigrate as well. Despite the horrible conditions during his prison years, Shcharansky’s spirit could not be broken, and he found comfort in reading a book of David’s Psalms, in particular the psalm that said "fear no evil." He commented on his time of imprisonment by saying, "Evil comes to you in different forms, and even freedom comes in different forms. You always have to test yourself."
In May 1988, he was elected president of the Zionist forum in Israel, and he began lobbying on behalf of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. This led to the creation of a new political party, the "Yisrael Ba-Aliya," on 6/07/1995, and in June 1996, he was appointed as Minister of Industry and Trade.
Shcharansky married Natalya Sitglitz in 1974; she was allowed to emigrate one day after their marriage. Settled in Israel, she adopted the Hebrew name "Avital," and during her travels abroad, she outspokenly championed his cause.