Natan Sharansky is a notable former Soviet dissident, Human rights activist, former Prisoner of Zion, Israeli politician and author.
As a Refusenik and dissident, he became a member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, under the leadership of noted Russian nuclear physicist, Andrei Sakharov. The group was organized in response to monitor Soviet compliance with the so-called Basket Three of the Helsinki Accords. Sakharov, Sharansky, and other prominent dissidents recognized that these accords could be used to legitimize their demands for human rights. Sharansky was imprisoned and ultimately expelled from the country, emigrating to Israel.
In Israel, Sharanksy has held many prominent positions both in and out of government. From March 2003 until May 2005, he was a Minister without portfolio in the Israeli government, responsible for Jerusalem, social and Jewish diaspora affairs. Previously he served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Minister of Housing and Construction since March 2001, Interior Minister of Israel (July 1999-resigned in July 2000), Minister of Industry and Trade (1996-1999). He resigned from the cabinet in April 2005 to protest plans to withdraw Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip. He was re-elected to the Knesset in March 2006 as a member of the Likud Party. On November 20, 2006, he resigned from the Knesset to form the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.