Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lev E. Dobriansky, a former U.S. ambassador, Georgetown University professor and anti-communist activist, died Wednesday at his home in Springfield. He was 89.

Mr. Dobriansky was an outspoken advocate of freedom and democracy who helped found Captive Nations Week, marked annually according to a Joint Resolution of Congress since 1959 with a proclamation by every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. The commemoration honors those who died or are held under communist rule.

Mr. Dobriansky, the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas from 1982 to 1986, was the author of numerous journal articles and books, including “Veblenism: A New Critique” (1957), “The Vulnerable Russians,” (1967), and “USA and the Soviet Myth” (1971). He was a co-founder of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington.

Friends and family members said Mr. Dobriansky lived a rich life that included seeing his prediction, first made in the 1950s, come true — the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. He also accurately forecast the independence of the states under Soviet rule, including nations of Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

President Bush honored Mr. Dobriansky’s efforts, along those of author Lee Edwards, in a speech in June marking the opening of the Victims of Communism Memorial. Mr. Bush said the memorial was a testament to the passion and determination of the two men.

“They faced setbacks and challenges along the way, yet they never gave up because in their hearts they heard the voices of the fallen crying out: ‘Remember us,’ ” Mr. Bush said.

“The president is saddened by the death of Lev Dobriansky, one of our nation’s greatest champions of freedom,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday. “He respected Lev’s commitment to educating politicians and students alike about the evils of communism and the great promise of liberty. He believed Lev was a leader who helped tear down the walls of tyranny and deliver hope to millions of people around the world.”

“Lev Dobriansky was a constant inspiration and champion of anti-communism for all of us who worked with him through the years,” Mr. Edwards said.

Mr. Dobriansky was born Nov. 9, 1918, in New York City to Ukrainian immigrant parents. He grew up in a Ukrainian-American community there and was educated at New York University, receiving a doctorate in 1951.

He began teaching at Georgetown in 1948 and founded and directed the Institute on Comparative Economic and Political Systems in 1970. He also was on the faculty at the National War College in 1957 and 1958.

In 1960, Mr. Dobriansky was instrumental in congressional efforts to build the statue of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko near Dupont Circle.

Among his numerous awards was the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given in 1986.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Julia Kusy Dobriansky, and two daughters, Larisa Dobriansky and Paula Dobriansky. Paula Dobriansky is undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs.

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