Zdzislaw Rurarz, 76; Polish ambassador defected to U.S. in 1981
Zdzislaw Rurarz, 76, a former Polish ambassador to Japan who humiliated Poland’s communist regime by defecting to the United States in 1981 to protest his country’s imposition of martial law, died Jan. 21 of cancer at Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia.
Rurarz was one of two Polish ambassadors who defected after Poland’s last communist leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, imposed martial law Dec. 13, 1981, in an attempt to crack down on Solidarity, a trade union pushing for democratic change.
Romuald Spasowski, ambassador to the United States, also defected.
Born Feb. 24, 1930, in Pionki, Rurarz held government and diplomatic posts starting in the 1960s.
After he defected, Rurarz was tried in absentia on charges of high treason and sentenced to death by Polish authorities. His citizenship also was revoked, and he lost the family’s home in Warsaw, his daughter said.
The death sentence was never lifted, and the citizenship and property were never restored.