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Ex-Soviet Dissident Views Files

February 22, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Twenty-two years after he was jailed on trumped-up charges, former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky was finally allowed to see the secret files from the Soviet criminal case against him.

Sharansky, once one of the Soviet Union’s best-known political prisoners, fought for the right of Jews to emigrate to Israel and was jailed in 1977 in Russia on charges that he was a CIA spy.

``I felt as though I had gone back 25 years in time, back to the investigations and the arrests ... to see all those names, and remember the opposition on our side, all that we fought against, all those forgeries, all those secrets,″ Sharansky said.

He spent 10 years in Soviet prisons before international pressure forced the Soviet government to strip him of his citizenship and deport him.

It took nearly a quarter century and the collapse of the Soviet Union for Sharansky, now the Israeli trade and industry minister, to be able to see the charges against him.

``I could see all the methods they tried that ultimately failed. It was very moving, fascinating, and encouraging,″ he said.

Sharansky, who was in Moscow on Monday, said Russian officials have shown him about 200 pages from the 52 cases the Soviet prosecutors had against him, ``and asked me if I wanted to look at the rest of it.″

Sharansky said he spent more than an hour between meetings with Russian economic officials going over the documents.

He said the Russian officials gave him the documents in an effort to close ``a past that won’t come back.″ And he wasn’t angry with the people who arrested him.

``Those people lost big. They lost control of the government. The Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore,″ he said.

Relations between Russia and Israel have warmed somewhat in recent years, after decades of animosity during Soviet rule. Sharansky has made frequent visits to Moscow to promote closer economic and political ties between the two countries.

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