Former Soviet ‘refusenik’ and Israel’s current Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, will address the upper house of the Russian Parliament, first in Hebrew …and then continue in his mother-tongue Russian, further developing the excellent ties between both countries.
By LAHAV HARKOV
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will become the first Israeli official to address the upper house of the Russian Parliament this week, a historic first holding even greater significance as he was a Prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union.
“This is a special trip, and there is great excitement about it,” Edelstein said Monday. “The goal is to further develop the excellent ties between our countries, especially the connections between the Knesset and the Russian Parliament. They’re better than ever, with excellent cooperation in different areas and deep friendship.”
Edelstein and a Knesset delegation are set to depart for Moscow early Tuesday morning, where he will hold meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his counterpart in the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, and the chairman of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, as well as Russian Jewish community leaders.
Edelstein said he “can’t ignore the symbolism, which just a few years ago could have seemed like a mirage, that someone who was a prisoner in the Soviet Union would stand on the stage of the parliament in Moscow and speak in Hebrew as the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset.”
The Knesset Speaker will open his speech to the Federation Council in Hebrew, before continuing in Russian on Wednesday.
In addition, Edelstein plans to tour important sites from his life in Moscow, including the home he lived in when, as a clandestine Hebrew teacher, he was arrested on trumped-up drug charges; the court in which he was convicted; and the Butyrka Prison, the transit jail he was sent to before the gulag.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov and MK Yoel Razbozov of Yesh Atid will join Edelstein on his trip, as will Knesset Director-General Albert Sacharovich.
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