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Interview

Ex-Soviet dissident Sharansky urges 'solidarity' with Hong Kong

Gulag survivor turned Israeli politician advises linking trade to Beijing's actions

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, center, and his wife tour the KGB's Lefortovo Prison -- where he was once held -- in Moscow in 1997.    © Reuters

TOKYO -- Partway through Natan Sharansky's nine years as a Soviet political prisoner, from 1977 to 1986, he and other inmates learned of U.S. President Ronald Reagan's speech branding Moscow an "evil empire." Word reached them through state propaganda criticizing Reagan, but Sharansky heard a message his captors did not intend.

"The free world understands the real nature of this regime," he recalled thinking. "We were hopeful and optimistic when we felt the free world was with us."

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