On June 15, 1970, a group of twelve refuseniks attempted and failed to hijack a plane leaving the Soviet Union, in order to emigrate from the Soviet Union. They were arrested at Smolny Airfield in the USSR and imprisoned. In 1980, Colorado Senator Tilman Bishop and Colorado Representative Jerry Kopel established a committee to release the three remaining prisoners (Iosif Mendelevich, Yuri Federov, and Alexei Murzhenko). 

For more information on Rep. Kopel, see The Gerald Kopel Papers held in the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection, which cover Kopel's entire legislative career from 1964 to 1992.

The Jerry Kopel Collection contains correspondence and documentation regarding the "Committee to Free the Leningrad Three."

Gift of Gerald H. Kopel in 1998.