Monday, July 24, 2017

Russian-Jewish freedom fighter Yuri Kosharovsky dies at 72

Yuli Kosharovsky, a man best known for his work as an active leader of Russia's Jewish refusnik movement, died last week at the age of 72.

Born into a Jewish family in the Sverdlovsk region, Kosharovsky spent the first 20 years of his life as a Soviet patriot studying engineering and automation. In 1964, Kosharovsky was employed by the Sverdlovsk Institute of Automation as a system designer for the Soviet strategic missile program, which was established to rival the American Polaris missile defense system, Forward.com reports.

In 1967, Kosharovsky withdrew his expertise and support from the Soviet movement amid an increasing amount of anti-Semitic propaganda being perpetuated by the government at the time.

In 1971, Kosharovsky became the first Jewish activist in the Sverdlovsk region to apply for an exit visa to Israel. Shortly afterward, he was arrested by Sverdlovsk authorities under suspicions of hooliganism and working as an agent of Zionism, according to Forward.com.

After being held in prison for one month, Kosharovsky was released, although his security clearances were revoked. Years later, he was allowed to move to Moscow, where he joined the growing refusnik movement.

In Moscow, Kosharovsky helped spearhead a number of programs to help improve the lives of Jewish citizens in the Soviet Union, including a seminar series for refusnik engineers who were removed from their jobs because of their religion. Later, he would begin teaching Hebrew in Moscow, considered a federal offense under Soviet law, Forward.com reports.

Kosharovsky was finally granted an exit visa to Israel in March of 1989 where he lived with his family lived until his death.