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Kyiv Post | 17Nov2011 | Taras Kuzio
Emigre strategies face Soviet and
After the liquidation of the organized nationalist underground in
(UHVR [Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council], UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent
Army], OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists]) by the early
1950s, emigre nationalists followed two different strategies in the
next four decades towards their goal of liberating Ukraine. Both
strategies had their own rationale but they also had positive and
The external representation (zp) UHVR, and the Prolog Research and
Publishing House it established in 1952, understood that this was a new
era and adopted a strategy of not establishing underground groups in
Soviet Ukraine. They adopted a new strategy aimed at the development
of “peaceful revolution” and strengthening of the opposition’s potential
through non-violent means, decades before this same strategy was
adopted in the Orange Revolution.
Two Prolog leaders also headed the U.S. government-funded Radio Svoboda
which played an important role in the provision of independent
information to Soviet Ukraine.
In contrast OUNb pursued a strategy common to all organized emigre
political parties of building underground structures in Soviet Ukraine.
As developments showed, the KGB was only too happy to assist them in
Prolog was not a typical emigre organization but a research think tank
and publishing company that also undertook covert activities vis-a-vis
Soviet Ukraine. zpUHVR/Prolog supported opposition groups and dissident
movements, including national communist tendencies within the Communist
Party of Ukraine. National communism was an important factor in Soviet
Ukrainian politics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s and in the
second half of the 1980s.
From the 1950s through to the 1980s the two emigre publishing houses
that published the greatest volume of dissident literature and
samvydav, that ranged across the ideological spectrum from national
communist, liberal to nationalist, were Prolog and Suchanist, its
Munich publishing arm, and the Baltimore-based Smoloskyp publishing
house run by Osyp Zinkevych. The only samvydav published by OUNb came
from a narrower spectrum of dissidents, nationalists based in Western
Soviet intelligence service infiltration of OUNb
Soviet security services infiltrated OUNb on many occasions from the
1950s to the 1980s, as revealed by existing information and former KGB
documents in the SBU archives on these operations. Many of these
documents are now in the West and will be useful for researchers
working in the future on the history of emigre interaction with Soviet
Ukraine from the 1950s to 1980s. The OUNb will never be transparent
about its activities and will therefore not publish its own objective
account of this period.
In 1951 the head of OUNb’s Security Service, Myron Matviyeko, was
parachuted by the British intelligence service into western Ukraine. In
the parachuted group headed by Matviyeko was a KGB agent and they were
“delivered” directly into the KGB's hands. zpUHVR courier Vasyl
Khrymovych, who was parachuted at the same time by the CIA was captured
by the KGB on Oct. 6, 1952 and after his refusal to co-operate was
executed in May 1954.
Matviyeko agreed to cooperate with the KGB and played the role of a
double agent until the early 1960s. Why the head of OUNb SB, one of the
most senior positions in the emigre nationalist organization, was sent
on such a dangerous mission remains unclear. If he was caught he could
reveal everything to the KGB about the émigré OUNb -- which is what he
Matviyeko’s capture and agreement to work for the KGB provided them
intelligence to plan the assassinations of OUNz leader Lev Rebet and
OUNb leader Stepan Bandera in 1957 and 1959 respectively in Munich.
OUNz (OUN abroad) professed allegiance to the democratic program adopted
by OUN in Ukraine in 1943, split from OUNb in 1954 and supported zpUHVR.
KGB assassin Bohdan Stashynsky defected to Germany in 1961 and after a
brief period of imprisonment allegedly returned to the USSR. He
continues to live in Kyiv and collects a pension from independent
Ukraine, the country that under President Viktor Yushchenko awarded
state awards to Bandera, the person Stashynsky assassinated.
One of OUNb’s underground leaders in the following decade, Sviatoslav
Panchyshyn, was a Soviet agent for the next three decades. At the end
of the 1960s the emigre OUNb approached Panchyshyn to be head of its
Lviv underground. Panchyshyn agreed to the proposal but promptly
informed the KGB and became a double agent until the late 1980s.
Panchyshyn was elevated to a position within the ruling council of OUNb
(Provid) which gave him secrets at the very core of the émigré
organization. He was appointed head of the Organized Court
(Organizatsiynoho Sudu) of OUNb and Chief of the OUNb Security Service
(SB) in Ukraine. Panchyhshyn therefore followed in the footsteps of
Panchyshyn’s work on behalf of the émigré OUNb was seen as so
“valuable” that the organization awarded him with the "Golden Cross"
medal and " Bandera Silver Medal".
In September 1988, Panchyshyn and Yuriy Ivanchenko, head of the Kyiv
OUNb underground, who was also a KGB double agent, held a press
conference in Kyiv where they revealed their life as Soviet agents. The
KGB strategy of building a controlled, artificial OUNb underground in
Ukraine was codenamed ‘Operation Boomerang.’
Panchyshyn and Ivanchenko gloated at the press conference at how they
had “neutralized” 20 OUNb emissaries from the US, Britain, France, and
Western Germany. One of the “neutralized” emissaries was the Belgian
young emigre Jaroslav Dobush from the Association of Ukrainian Youth
Dovbush was arrested in January 1972 by the KGB and charged with
‘espionage.’ His public confession, prepared by the KGB, linked
Ukraine’s dissidents and cultural activists to émigré nationalists.
This false allegation was used to launch the 1972 wave of arrests in
Ukraine described as a ‘pohrom’ (pogrom) by the samvydav journal
Ukrainski Visnyk (Ukrainian Herald).
The Communist Party of Ukraine required “proof” of the alleged ties
between emigre nationalists and Ukrainian dissidents and cultural
activists to provide ideological justification for their campaign of
arrests. Communist strategy was facilitated by KGB control of the fake
“OUNb underground” in Soviet Ukraine. The Dobush affair had all the
hallmarks of an inside provocation organized by KGB double agent whom
the OUNb believed were working for them over two decades.
KGB becomes SBU in independent Ukraine
When Ukraine became an independent state the emigre OUNb aligned with
the small DSU (State Independence of Ukraine) party whose leaders had
links to the National Front that had been active in Western Ukraine in
the 1960s and 1970s.
OUNb distanced itself from the largest, at that time, home grown
nationalist group, the Inter-Party Assembly (which became the Ukrainian
National Assembly [UNA]) and its paramilitary arm, UNSO (Ukrainian
Peoples Self Defense Force). OUNb therefore did not support UNA leader
Yuriy Shukhevych’s candidacy in Ukraine’s December 1991 presidential
elections. Yuriy Shukhevych had spent thirty years in the Gulag for
being the son of the legendary UPA commander Roman Shukhevych who died
in a 1950 shootout with KGB troops.
In 1992 the OUNb continued its four decade-long strategy of
establishing political structures in Ukraine, the only Ukrainian émigré
political group to establish a new political party in independent
Ukraine, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN). OUNz/zpUHVR and
OUNm (Andrei Melnyk), which was registered as a NGO, continued their
different four decade non-violent strategy of focusing on educational
and civil society work. The émigré Smoloskyp publishing house moved its
publishing operations to Kyiv where they still exist.
KUN was headed by OUNb leader Yaroslava Stetsko from 1992 until she
passed away in 2003. Throughout this period KUN was plagued by rumors
of infiltration by the SBU, the KGB’s successor structure. KUN deputy
leader Serhiy Zhizhko successfully ejected Roman Zvarych, an OUNb
activist from New York, in 1995. Zvarych and many other members of KUN
believed that Zhizhko was a SBU agent but Stetsko always supported
Zvarych was elected to parliament in 1998 in Rukh, then in Our Ukraine
in 2006 and 2007 and more recently has joined Front for Change. Zvarych
was briefly Minister of Justice in 2005 but this ended in scandal when
it was revealed he had falsely claimed on his CV to having an MA and
PhD from Columbia University.
It has also long been suspected that leaders of the Social National
Party of Ukraine/Svoboda had links to the SBU. More recently, rumors
persist that Svoboda receives funding from the Party of Regions, a
claim even the pro-Yanukovych American Institute of Ukraine criticized
in two reports.
After Stetsko passed away, KUN’s new leader became gas trader Oleksiy
Ivchenko who had been active with other Western Ukrainians in the gas
trade since the 1990s. In 2005 Ivchenko was appointed head of the state
gas company Naftohaz Ukrainy but was disgraced by his purchase of a
$250,000 Mercedes and was replaced by President Yushchenko.
KUN failed to enter parliament in the 1998 elections when it was one of
three parties in the National Front bloc. KUN with its new leader
entered parliament in Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc in the 2002 and
2006 elections but did not join the Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defense
bloc in the 2007 pre-term elections.
In the second half of the last decade KUN led by Ivchenko has cut
earlier ties to OUNb which has been led by second generation Ukrainians
from Germany and (currently) Australia. The Stepan Bandera
Sports-Patriotic Association “Tryzub” (Trident), split from KUN in the
late 1990s and is today a separate structure.
The main nationalist party in Ukraine today is Svoboda (Freedom) which
is home grown, not imported from the Ukrainian diaspora. OUNb meanwhile
has resumed its life as an émigré organization.
The supreme irony is that today in Ukraine and the diaspora there are
four organizations and parties that claim to be “Banderite” (i.e.
followers of Stepan Bandera) in Ukraine -- Svoboda, KUN, OUNb “Tryzub” --
but they do not work with each other. Emigre OUNb has poor relations
with all three. Ukrainian nationalists are therefore as fractured as
OUNb pursued a misconceived strategy of establishing underground groups
in Soviet Ukraine and a political party in independent Ukraine. In both
cases this led to infiltration by the KGB and its successor structure,
Émigré groups and parties that pursued a different strategy of
educational and cultural work vis-a-vis Soviet Ukraine and independent
Ukraine, such as zpUHVR/Prolog, Smoloskyp and the OUNm Olzhych
Foundation, have been far more successful. They, in contrast, have not
given the KGB or SBU the means to infiltrate and subvert their work.
Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic
Relations, School Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins
University, Washington DC.
[W.Z. The reader should also see earlier articles by Askold Lozynskyj and Taras Kuzio archived on this Ukrainophobia directory.]