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Natan Sharansky received the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.

The survivor of the Soviet gulag and former Israeli deputy prime minister was honored Sept. 17 at a ceremony in Washington with the award from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Former first lady Nancy Reagan was on hand to make the presentation to the human rights activist.

“My husband once said that Natan’s devotion to the cause of freedom was a symbol of man’s highest aspiration. His release from a Soviet gulag was one of the most rewarding events of Ronnie’s presidency,” said Reagan in a statement earlier this year announcing Sharansky’s selection.

Cindy McCain and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), also spoke at the ceremony.

McCain, according to a Washington television station, compared her husband, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, to the award recipient.

“They both were prisoners, John for serving his country, Natan for serving his conscience,” she said. “Their hard experiences strengthened both men.”

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