Natan Sharansky (born 20 January 1948) is a Soviet-born Israeli politician, human rights activist and author who spent nine years in Soviet prisons for allegedly spying for the American Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Natan Sharansky has served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency since June 2009.
Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky was born in Donetsk (then called Stalino), Soviet Union on 20 January 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 maintained his sanity by playing chess against himself in his mind. Sharansky beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition in Israel in 1996.
Sharansky was denied an exit visa to Israel in 1973. The reason given for denial of the visa was that he had been given access, at some point in his career, to information vital to Soviet national security and could not now be allowed to leave. After becoming a refusenik, Sharansky became a human rights activist, working as a translator for dissident and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, and spokesperson for the Moscow Helsinki Group and a leader for the rights of refuseniks...
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