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Israeli Knesset speaker to visit Russia, to address upper house members

May 16, 2017, 4:39 UTC+3 TEL AVIV

Specifically, the visit will take place on June 27-29

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TEL AVIV, May 16. /TASS/. Speaker of Israeli Knesset, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein will make an official visit to Moscow at the end of June, Israeli parliament’s press service said on Monday.

Specifically, the visit will take place on June 27-29.

"This is Edelstein’s first visit to Moscow in the capacity of speaker," the press release said, adding that it was timed for the 30th anniversary since Edelstein’s release from Soviet jail.

The press service quoted Edelstein saying the visit would be very special for him and he was very excited. "The goal of the visit is to improve further the already perfect relations between Israel and Russia and especially the relations between the two countries’ parliaments that we’re developing persistently."

"These ties are superb already and they embrace profound cooperation and friendship in various spheres," he said.

The press service said Edelstein will have talks with the speaker of the Federation Council upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This will be a return visit. Valentina Matviyenko went to Israel last year.

According to the press release, Edelstein will get the honor of addressing a plenary session of the Federation Council where he will speak Hebrew.

His program in Moscow includes a meeting with the leaders of the Russian Jewish Community and a trip to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.

This trip has an aspect very important for Eledstein. He will visit the places memorable for him as a Soviet-era refusenik - a Jewish person who was denied permission to emigrate - the place where he was arrested, the detention center where he was kept and the courtroom where he was convicted.

"One can’t help thinking about a formidable situation where someone who was an inmate in a Soviet jail will speak to the upper house of Russian parliament as the speaker of Knesset of the State of Israel," Edelstein said.

He is the first Russian-speaking Israeli politician elected Knesset speaker. He chairs a second convocation of Knesset in a row. Prior to that, he was elected deputy seven times and occupied ministerial positions more than once.

He was born in the city of Chernovtsi in southwestern Ukraine in 1948 to the family of Yuri (Georgy) Edelstein who was ordained into priesthood by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1979. On the face of it, Yuli Edelstein espouses the tradition of Orthodox Judaism.

He repatriated to Israel in 1987 after serving 2.8 years in a Soviet jail for dissident activities. In 1996 he founded Israel BaAliyah Party but was elected to parliament on the Likud party ticket in 2003 after his party’s merger with Likud.

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