To Russia with Love? Sharansky to Head Mission

Ten years after leaving Russia in an East-West swap, Natan Sharansky is heading for his homeland.

The former Soviet Jewish dissident and Israel’s current Trade and Industry Minister will travel Nov. 25 to Russia for a weeklong visit, Sharansky’s ministry said in a statement.

In addition to the personal significance of the trip, it will also be the first trip to Russia by a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

The visit is intended to strengthen trade and industrial ties between the two countries, as well as enhance political relations.

Sharansky is to be accompanied by a delegation of 50 government officials, businesspeople and industrialists.

Israeli exports to Russia now total an estimated $260 million, with imports totaling $100 million.

During the visit, Sharansky, who served nine years in Soviet prisons, is scheduled to meet with government ministers, participate in a seminar to promote industrial cooperation, meet with the Russian Jewish community and visit sites that served as major milestones in his activities in the former Soviet Union.

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