It is with great sadness that the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (Blinken OSA) reports on the passing of A. Ross Johnson. A scholar who specialized in East European and Soviet security issues, Johnson fulfilled senior positions at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL, Inc.) over several decades: he was senior executive from 1988 to 2002, director of the RFE/RL Research Institute, acting president and counselor of RFE/RL, and recently History and Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, and Senior Adviser at RFE/RL.
He played a key role in overseeing the deposit of the archives of RFE/RL Research Institute at Blinken OSA, actively following up on the fate of the materials deposited in the Budapest based institution. He was a keen guardian of those materials who kept personal and professional working contacts with the staff of Blinken OSA. Over the years, his conviction became firm that the materials deposited here are in good, capable, and professional hands. In 2015, on the very day the Open Society Archives was renamed Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, a joint memorandum was signed by Blinken OSA and RFE/RL on the unifying, by digital technology, of the split documentary heritage of the Radios, part of which is in the custody of the Hoover Institution. The signatory for RFE/RL was Ross Johnson, thereby raising the relationship of these three organizations to a new, higher level.
Ross Johnson actively participated in establishing a new grant scheme in 2010, which offers the possibility for grantees of the Visegrad Scholarship Grant Program at Blinken OSA to do research in the archive of the Hoover Institution, in collaboration with students of the Stanford University. The funds for this grant are offered jointly by Blinken OSA and RFE/RL. Blinken OSA would like to extend this opportunity in the future and honor the memory of Ross Johnson by naming this grant scheme after him.
We will miss Ross Johnson’s inestimable knowledge, his legendary memory, humor, and unique personality.