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Irina Ratushinskaya (born 1954) is a poet, writer and political activist. Born in Odessa, she studied physics and went on to teach primary school. In the early 1980s, she was charged with “anti-Soviet agitation” for “dissemination of slanderous documentation in poetic form.” She was convincted and spent the next four years in a labor camp for political prisoners, and was released early from her seven-year term on the eve of the Gorbachev-Reagan summit in Reykjavik. She continued to write her poems in prison, etching them on soap until they were memorized, then washing them away. Deprived of Soviet citizenship, she lived in the U.S. from 1987 to 1998. She now lives in Moscow (having regained Russian citizenship) with her husband, human rights activist Igor Gerashchenko, and their two sons.