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Kevin Ruane (Read 1626 times)
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Kevin Ruane
Dec 12th, 2018, 3:10pm
 
Kevin Ruane, who as Warsaw correspondent covered the Solidarity movement and wrote books about it, has died in Australia.  
He worked at Caversham and in the Radio Newsroom before becoming Moscow Correspondent, and then moving to Poland.  In 2010 he was awarded the Medal of Gratitude by the Polish Government.  
His funeral took place in Canberra on December 7, 2018.
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Re: Kevin Ruane
Reply #1 - Dec 12th, 2018, 9:29pm
 
Kevin was 86.  He is survived by his partner, Clare Birgin, wife Beryl, son Vincent and daughter Frances.
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Re: Kevin Ruane
Reply #2 - Jan 17th, 2019, 4:41pm
 
Kevin's first book - on Solidarity - was The Polish Challenge; his second - Reasons of State: to kill a Polish priest - a thoughtful and at the same time thrilling account of the Polish State's murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko. His partner was Clare Birgin (sic).
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Re: Kevin Ruane
Reply #3 - Jan 18th, 2019, 10:22am
 
Apologies for the spelling error - now corrected.  Thanks for the additional information.
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Re: Kevin Ruane
Reply #4 - Feb 14th, 2019, 11:52am
 
This obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph, February 14, 2019

Kevin Ruane, who has died aged 86, was the BBC correspondent in both Moscow and Warsaw during the Cold War; he believed that, simply by reporting, a correspondent could become part of the spreading of dissent, yet at the same time he was admired and trusted by the communist regimes whose authority he helped to undermine.

In both Russia and Poland, Ruane’s gifts as a linguist gave him a rare advantage and offered a special access to the dissidents who interested him, without the mediation of local “assistants”.

He arrived in Moscow on St Valentine’s Day 1976, at a time when it had become clear that the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords, a major breakthrough in the West’s struggle to get the communist world to abide by democratic standards, were not to be extended by the Soviet authorities to their own citizens.

Ruane busied himself with the dissidents, covering among other events the trial of Yuri Orlov, who had announced the formation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, and was being punished accordingly.

Later in his time in Moscow, he covered a demonstration by Ugandan students against the regime of Idi Amin, recording them proudly singing their national anthem outside Amin’s embassy in Moscow. The BBC broadcast this to Uganda and later, after Amin was ousted, Ruane was thanked profusely by a visiting Ugandan general, who said: “We were tired and discouraged and we sat in the shade under a tree. Then we heard the students in Moscow singing our anthem on the BBC and we got up and marched on Kampala.”

Ruane moved to Warsaw in 1981 and when, towards the end of that year, the communist authorities moved against the nascent Solidarity movement, imprisoning its leadership or driving them underground, he determined to keep the world, and the Polish people, informed of what was really happening. His first book about Poland, The Polish Challenge, was published in 1982 and his office became a meeting place for the opposition. For young British diplomats it was the place to find out what was going on and to meet leading Solidarity figures, once they had been released.

When the prominent dissident Zbiszek Bujak, captured after four years in hiding in 1985, was released under an amnesty in 1986, Ruane rushed to Bujak’s mother-in-law’s house to wait for him. When Bujak eventually came down the lane, he introduced himself, but there was no need, though they had never met before. “Znam Pana” (“I know you”), Bujak replied. He was familiar with Ruane’s broadcasts on the BBC’s Polish service.

In the late 1980s, when some in the Western diplomatic community began to think that Solidarity’s days were over, Ruane insisted that it was still very much alive. Three years after he left Warsaw, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, right-hand man to the Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa, became the first non-communist prime minister in Central Europe since 1948.

Kevin Ruane was born in Liverpool on May 20 1932. His father was a professional gardener. At school one of his teachers noted his unusual talent for ancient Greek – a gift that took him to Peterhouse, Cambridge, to read Classics.

After graduation he did his National Service in the Army. He was an uncomfortable fit in the Royal Artillery but the fact that he was a Roman Catholic paid off. One day his commanding officer asked, on his daughter’s behalf, whether he would sell raffle tickets for the Little Children of Mary; in return he fixed for Ruane to attend the Army Russian course.

The course led Ruane to the BBC Monitoring Service at Caversham, where he was the only non-Russian in the Russian monitoring service. He was then promoted, the first to be so, from monitoring to the BBC newsroom in Broadcasting House. As a foreign editor he travelled widely and was in Washington to cover the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Ruane retired from the BBC soon after his posting in Warsaw and settled in Australia. Still active in retirement, he wrote a second book, To Kill a Priest, about the murder by the secret police of Father Popiełuszko, whom he had known well.

Belatedly, Ruane’s contribution to Poland was recognised by three medals. He was especially proud of the Knight’s Cross given to him by the Polish president.

Kevin Ruane, born May 20 1932, died December 3 2018

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