Dobrians’kyi, Adol’f/Dobrzansky, Adolf
Dobrians’kyi, Adol’f/Dobrzansky, Adolf (pseudonyms: Aidin, Slaven, Sriemets) (b. December 19, 1817, Rudlov [Hungarian Kingdom], Slovakia; d. March 18, 1901, Innsbruck [Austrian Tyrol], Austria) — Carpatho-Rusyn political theorist and activist of Russian national orientation in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus’. The son of a Greek Catholic priest, Dobrians’kyi attended gymnasia in Levoca, Roznava, and Miskolc (1827-1831) and then studied philosophy in Kosice (1833), law in Eger (1834-1836), and mining at the Academy for Mines and Forests in Banska Bystrica. His education, completed in Vienna (1846), provided him with fluency in a wide variety of languages, including German, Hungarian, English, French, Italian, and Greek. While working as a mining engineer he visited Bohemia and met with the Czech political and cultural activists Frantisek Palacky, Frantisek Rieger, and Karel Havlicek-Borovsky.
Dobrians’kyi initially welcomed the revolution of 1848 in Hungary, expecting that its liberal government under Lajos Kossuth would accord civil rights to Rusyns. It was because of a sense of loyalty to Hungary that Dobrians’kyi did not participate in the Slavic Congress that met in Prague (June 1848). When, however, Dobrians’kyi was elected that same year to the Hungarian Parliament from the Slovak district of Banska Bystrica, his mandate was not accepted and he was accused of being a pan-Slavist. Barred from the Hungarian Parliament, Dobrians’kyi moved to Presov, where he headed a group of activists that formulated a political program calling for the union of Rusyns in the Hungarian Kingdom with those in Austrian Galicia (that is, eastern Galicia as well as the *Lemko Region). At the end of January 1849 he submitted to the new Austrian emperor, Franz Joseph I (r. 1848-1916), a petition “Concerning the Union of Rusyn Crown Lands into a Single Political and Administrative Unit” and then travelled to L’viv to coordinate his efforts with the Supreme Ruthenian Council, which had become the representative body of Galicia’s Rusyns. In April 1849 the Austrian government appointed Dobrians’kyi its civilian commissioner and liaison with the tsarist Russian Army of General Paskevich, which Emperor Franz Joseph invited to help crush the Hungarian Revolution.
After the defeat of the Hungarian forces (August 1849) Dobrians’kyi led a delegation of Rusyns (including his brother Viktor Dobrians’kyi, Vikentii Aleksovych, Mykhailo Vysianyk, Iosyf Sholtes, and Aleksander Ianyts’kyi) that held talks with high governmental officials in Vienna (October) and submitted another petition to the emperor. Among the petition’s 12 points were demands for the recognition of the Rusyn nationality in Hungary, the demarcation of Rusyn-inhabited territory, the introduction of the Rusyn language in schools and the local administration, the appearance of a Rusyn press, the appointment of Rusyn officials and civil servants, and fellowships for students from the Hungarian Kingdom to attend the University of L’viv. The demand for union with Galicia, which had figured in the previous January 1849 petition, was dropped in recognition of Vienna’s displeasure with the idea.
When Austria imposed martial law in Hungary and reorganized the kingdom’s administrative structure Dobrians’kyi was appointed advisor (October 1849) to assist the head of the Uzhhorod Civil District (comprising *Uzh, *Bereg, *Ugocha, and *Maramorosh counties). Dobrians’kyi considered the civil district to be the first step toward the creation of an autonomous *Rusyn District/Rus’kyi okruh. He issued the Uzhhorod District’s official documents and proclamations in Rusyn, had Rusyn introduced in schools, and appointed Rusyns to governmental posts. After the Uzhhorod Civil District was abolished in March 1850 Dobrians’kyi moved to Kosice, where in 1861 he was again elected to the Hungarian Parliament and where again his mandate was rejected. It was at this time that he formulated a proposal to have the Hungarian Kingdom administratively divided into five national districts: German-Magyar, Serbian, Romanian, Rusyn, and Slovak. In 1865 Dobrians’kyi was elected for a third time to the Hungarian Parliament and was finally allowed to take up his seat. He was particularly active in promoting cultural activity among both Rusyns and Slovaks, serving as first co-chairman of the *St. Basil the Great Society in Uzhhorod (1866) and as a co-founder of the Slovak Cultural Foundation/Matica slovenska (1867) in Turciansky Sv. Martin. Such “pan-Slavic” activity was frowned upon by Hungarian leaders, who in 1869 succeeded in having him removed from his parliamentary seat.
Dobrians’kyi retired to his property in the Rusyn village of Certizne in northeastern Slovakia, but displeased with increasing surveillance by the Hungarian authorities, he decided in 1875 to emigrate to Russia. He returned to Austria-Hungary in 1881, settling this time in Galicia’s administrative center of L’viv, but within a year Hungary’s Prime Minister Kalman Tisza succeeded in convincing the Austrian authorities to organize a trial (June 12-July 29, 1882) accusing Dobrians’kyi, his daughter Ol’ga *Hrabar (living at the time in L’viv), and a group of Galician *Russophiles of state treason. Although acquitted for lack of evidence, Dobrians’kyi was forced to move to Vienna and from there to Innsbruck in Austria’s far western province of Tyrol, where he was to spend the last two decades of his life. During that time he continued to publish essays that outlined his belief in the idea of a federalized Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (Programm zur Durchfuhrung der nationalen Autonomie in Oesterreich, 1885) as well as the Russophile view that Rusyns are a branch of the Russian nationality (O sovremennom religiozno-politicheskom polozheniiu avstro-ugorskoi Rusi, 1885). Whereas he maintained contacts with political and cultural activists in the Russian Empire, his ties with Subcarpathian Rus’ during his Innsbruck years were basically non-existent. Dobrians’kyi was buried in the Greek Catholic cemetery in Certizne. In recognition of his achievements, the *Dukhnovych Society in Uzhhorod erected memorial busts of him by the sculptor Olena Mandych in Michalovce (1928) and Uzhhorod (1929).
Bibliography: Anton Budilovich, Ob osnovnykh vozzreniiakh A. I. Dobrianskago (St. Petersburg, 1901); Fedor F. Aristov, Karpatorusskie pisateli, Vol. I (Moscow, 1916), pp. 145-223; Pavel S. Fedor, Kratkii ocherk dieiatel’nosti A.I. Dobrianskago (Uzhhorod, 1926); Florian Zapletal, A.I. Dobrjanskij a nasi Rusini r. 1848-1851 (Prague, 1927); Stepan Dobosh, Adol’f Ivanovich Dobrianskii: ocherk zhizni i deiatel’nosti (Bratislava and Presov, 1956).
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.