Soviet Jew Who Was Part of 1970 Plot to Hijack Plane and Fly It to Israel Dies

Anatoly Altman was sentenced to over a decade of hard labor over his involvement in plan to leave Soviet Union

Anatoly Altman.
Screenshot/YouTube

Anatoly Altman, a Ukrainian Jew who tried to hijack a plane to escape the former Soviet Union, has died.

Born in what today is Ukraine, Altman was a member of “Operation Wedding,” an attempt by several Jews who were arrested in 1970 at a St. Petersburg airport, where they had gathered to take the plane and fly it to Israel.

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He died Thursday in Israel, in Haifa. Altman, one of the so-called “prisoners of Zion,” was 77.

As a defendant in the 1970 Soviet trial for “treason against the homeland” Anatoly declared: “Today is a very difficult day, but I’m happy, too. Because today I started my way home (to Israel) … And I’m sure, maybe it may take years in prison, but I’m sure I’ll get home to Israel, and from today until that time in the future, I say 'Shalom to Eretz Yisrael.'”

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Altman was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the gulag. In 1979, he was released and immigrated directly to Israel, or made aliyah.

“May his memory be for a blessing, and may his family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem,” the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry wrote in a statement about his passing.