Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich is marking 46 years since he and a group of Jewish refuseniks were arrested at Leningrad Airport, on June 15, 1970, as they tried to hijack a Soviet plane to Israel. He was released 11 years later.

“I am celebrating a birthday,” he said.

The famous “prisoner of Zion” spoke exuberantly to Arutz Sheva of the influence he and the other “prisoners of Zion” had on Jews worldwide and on Aliyah to Israel.

Remarking on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow, he said that Russia has had to accept Israel’s existence and to admit that Israel is a big power, and he credited the refuseniks’ struggle with a role in this development, as well.

Russia has its own aspirations, he warned, however, and it could pose a danger for Israel, which needs to remain vigilant.