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Robert Krieble is hardly a household name. But it’s one that should live forever in the annals of freedom and democracy.
Mr. Krieble made a fortune after inventing a glue that stops engines and machinery from shaking themselves apart. But it was for his work in the last decade promoting democratic reforms in Russia and helping to shake apart the Soviet empire for which he should be remembered.
He died in his sleep last Thursday at his home in Connecticut at the age of 80.
Mr. Krieble made some 50 trips to Russia before the coup in 1991. He and his teams taught eager pro-democracy forces there how to win elections, how to govern and how to start businesses. More than 20,000 were trained by the Krieble Institute, according to Paul Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation and a close partner with the philanthropist.
“The then-head of the KGB warned Gorbachev that we were building a subversive force inside the Soviet empire,” he recalled of those days. “Gorbachev ignored his warnings and that is one of the reasons the conspirators decided that Gorbachev had to be toppled. What came out of that coup was Boris Yeltsin and the end of the old Soviet empire.”
“One year before the coup of 1991, when most Western countries and Western politicians were caught up by the Gorbo-mania and wanted to ignore our democracy forces, Bob Krieble and his team were the only people who supported us from the very beginning,” said Arkady Murashev, a Russian lawmaker and early pro-democracy activist.
I personally didn’t know Bob Krieble very well, but I, too, can attest to his generosity, commitment and foresight. For he was an early and consistent supporter of my own Western Journalism Center, an independent group of investigative reporters who believe the central role of a free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government.
I can’t remember a single instance in which I directly asked Bob Krieble for support that was not forthcoming. I’m just sorry he never got to see WorldNetDaily. But, then again, maybe he is seeing it — from a far better vantage point.
There will be many worthwhile causes that miss Mr. Krieble for his generosity. I will miss him more for his spirit.
Very often, these days, we hear people say that businessmen need to “give something back” for their good fortune. Bob Krieble gave something back — not only to those of us in this great country that gave him the opportunity to succeed, but to people around the world.