Sharansky May Visit USSR

Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in the Soviet Gulag for alleged spying, may soon revisit the land of his birth.

The Soviet Jewry activist and former “prisoner of Zion” said he has been invited to attend the founding in Moscow, in December, of the Soviet Jewish Confederation, an umbrella body of all Jewish cultural organizations in the Soviet Union.

On Monday, he told Ma’ariv he was considering accepting the invitation if it could help the Jewish revival, though he has no nostalgia for his native land.

He assumed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev could make political capital from his visit. But that had to be balanced against the benefit which would accrue to the Soviet Jewry movement, Sharansky explained.

He said he doubted the Soviet authorities would refuse him an entry visa, even though he had been convicted of spying for the United States.

He was released in a spy exchange in February 1986. The Kremlin now seeks to distance itself from the past, Sharansky said.

He noted that another key human rights activist, Yuri Orlov, was recently allowed to visit the Soviet Union, even though the Soviet authorities once branded him an enemy of the state.

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