October Surprise Pt. 1

The Suburban Council of Trump-Bandera Voters

On Monday, August 24 in southern New Jersey, as some beachgoers celebrated Ukraine’s Independence Day on the Jersey Shore—it was Ukrainian Week in the borough of Wildwood Crest—a small plane flew by with a banner that said “Ukrainian Americans for Trump.” Some cheered, others booed. It returned a few days later. “Bad form,” said Ukrainian Americans for Biden (UAB), one of sixteen Heritage Groups in the Democratic National Committee’s National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council. “UAB decided that we did not want to be drawn into a tit-for-tat,” according to the UAB Facebook page, which denied any connection to the “Ukrainians for Biden & Decency” and “Putin Trump 2020” banners that flew over the beach later that week.

Meanwhile, the Trump re-election campaign launched a less-than-barebones Ukrainian Americans for Trump website, and the first of several unofficial Trump 2020 advertisements appeared in Ukrainian American newspapers. But there isn’t a tangible Republican National Committee counterpart to UAB, which has a functioning website and kicked off its advertising campaign in July. The pro-Trump ads have been paid for by the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters (SCUVoters), which is at least thirty years old. It seems the Suburban Council only recently decided to drop the pretense of being non-partisan, around the time it bought the domain UkrainiansForTrump.com, not to be confused with the official UkrainianAmericans.DonaldJTrump.com. The possibility of SCUV coordination with the Trump campaign exists.

In mid-September, the Suburban Council got another full-page ad in the Ukrainian Weekly, the principal English language Ukrainian American newspaper, featuring a picture of a bombed out church in eastern Ukraine. “While Joe Biden was serving as Vice President … Ukraine was being destroyed,” it began. “Ukraine begged for lethal military aid. Obama-Biden sent: Blankets … UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP, UKRAINE GOT $275 MILLION IN LETHAL MILITARY AID, INCLUDING JAVELIN MISSILES.” The communications coordinator of the UAB steering committee alleged the image was sourced from a “Russian propaganda website … banned by Facebook earlier this year for its connections to Russian intelligence.”

The previous issue of the Ukrainian Weekly included a rosy article about a mask-free event co-sponsored by the anti-mask SCUVoters on the grounds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bloomingdale, Illinois, some 25 miles west of Chicago. The solemn event was held in memory of the destruction of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the Nazi SS, better known as the “Galicia Division,” in the summer of 1944. It was a small gathering, but the cream of the crop of the local organized Ukrainian community participated.

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. — On the initiative of the Organization for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine (ODFFU), Branch 31 in Palatine, Ill., in cooperation with St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Bloomingdale, Ill., the Ukrainian community of Chicago and suburbs gathered, on Sunday, August 2, to honor the memory of the Ukrainians who perished in the Battle of Brody in 1944 …

With their attendance at this solemn observance, Ukrainian American Veterans Post 32, the Women’s Association for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine [WADFFU]—Olena Pchilka Branch, the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America—Illinois Division honored the memory of the courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives for Ukraine.

In his remarks, the Very Rev. Poliarny [the church’s pastor] emphasized that “young volunteers, members of the Galicia Division, demonstrated their national and political values, patriotism, and renewed the tradition of armed struggle for the sovereignty of Ukraine.” He underscored: “We do not have the right to forget our [Waffen-SS] heroes who have devoted and sacrificed their lives in service to the Ukrainian people and protection of our homeland.”

The article’s author, Maria Korkatsch-Groszko, participated in the event. Because she happily did so as a member of the church administration and merely described those who joined the “Galicia Division” as “young and patriotic Ukrainians,” Korkatsch presumably didn’t object to the pastor’s declaration that Ukrainians don’t have a right not to glorify the 14th Grenadier Division of the Waffen-SS. At the end of the day, that is her right, but Dr. Maria Korkatsch-Groszko is an appointed member of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission, in part on the basis that she’s on the board of a Chicago-based Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation. According to her Illinois.gov bio, Korkatsch serves on the national coordinating body of Ukrainian private schools in the United States. She is also a vice president of the Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), and appears to be a core member of the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters.

Natalie Jaresko, the Chicago-born former Finance Minister of Ukraine (2014-16) who is today a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and the executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, is one of Korkatsch’s former students. Natalie’s younger brother John is another member of the Suburban Council, or at least used to be. He is also the president of the parish board of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Bloomingdale, and co-chaired its Ukrainian Heroes Monument Committee. The latter oversaw the construction on the church grounds of the Ukrainian diaspora’s first monument dedicated to the “Heavenly Hundred” victims of the 2014 Maidan massacre in Kyiv. The truth is the monument isn’t dedicated just to them but all “Heroes of Ukraine,” especially including the nationalist diaspora’s favorite Nazi collaborators, so perhaps it was technically an appropriate setting for the tribute to Ukrainian Waffen-SS soldiers.

Rev. Victor Poliarny, the pastor of St. Andrew's UOC, is standing in the middle. To the right of him is Roman Holowka, president of the Palatine, Illinois branch of the ODFFU. Maria Korkatsch-Groszko, to the right of Holowka, and Jaroslav Sydorenko, second to the left holding the ODFFU-Palatine flag, are the first and second deputy chairmen (i.e. vice-presidents) of St. Andrew's parish board. On the far right is Ros Saciuk, the last known president of SCUVoters, holding up the flag of the Women's Auxiliary of the ODFFU. 

The Facebook pages of the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters and the 31st branch of the Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms of Ukraine (ODFFU) in Palatine, Illinois are obviously managed by the same person. Ros Saciuk, a member of ODFFU Branch 31, is the last known president of SCUVoters and most likely remains the head of the group. The OUN has always been associated with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, but the OFFFU-Palatine leadership has close ties to St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in nearby Bloomingdale. For starters, Roman Holowka, the president of Branch 31, was the architect of the church’s cultural center. Readers of the Bandera Lobby Blog may recall that last year, Bloomingdale hosted a dubious “extraordinary convention” held in the name of the ODFFU that amounted to an attempted takeover of the national organization by sworn followers of the long dead Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. In fact the meeting was held in the auditorium of St. Andrew’s UOC.

Historically speaking, the ODFFU, established in 1946, was always closely tied to Bandera’s faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). The “Banderites” had a more complicated relationship with the Germans than the Ukrainian Waffen-SS did, but OUN-B members perpetrated far more atrocities than their counterparts in the “Galicia Division.” After the war, they set up an international network of front groups that came to be called the World Ukrainian Liberation Front, which is today known as the International Council in Support of Ukraine. The ODFFU used to be an important piece of that puzzle, but today is a shell of its former self and suffering from vicious in-fighting.

In the only publicly available photo of the event, Ros Saciuk, the last known president of the SCUVoters, addresses the 9/28/19 "Extraordinary Convention" in Bloomingdale, IL alleging to form a new ODFFU board of directors. Sitting left to right: Ihor Diaczun, UCCA-Illinois president, Mykola Hryckowian, Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, and unknown.

Last year, the OUN-B’s falling out with the ODFFU board of directors came to a head. Branch 31 must have hosted the “extraordinary convention,” which the UCCA president gave his blessings to but the Manhattan-based leadership of the ODFFU decried as part of a master plan by certain individuals to seize the organization’s assets. In fact, the OUN-B oriented group that declared a new board of directors in the suburbs of Chicago immediately formed a Building Management Committee to facilitate the takeover of the ODFFU headquarters building in New York. In the months to come, Manhattan’s defunct 2nd branch of the ODFFU was superficially re-activated under the auspices of the OUN-B. A fight broke out inside the headquarters building when Brooklyn members of the ODFFU tried to intervene. SCUVoters’ Ros Saciuk spoke at the Bloomingdale convention and is a member of the illegitimate ODFFU board of directors.

If one could poll present-day OUN-B leaders in the United States, you’d most likely learn they’re overall “Ridin’ with Biden,” but they’ve worked hand in hand with pro-Trump Banderites, and not just from the suburbs surrounding Chicago. Mykola Hryckowian, the Washington bureau chief of the OUN-B affiliated Center for US-Ukrainian Relations and the Bloomingdale-“elected” head of the ODFFU, is a Trump supporter. He played a key role in the coordination of the Ukrainian American community’s successful lobbying efforts to ensure passage of the 2014 Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which authorized the U.S. president to sell Ukraine what is so euphemistically called “lethal aid.”

Whereas Barack Obama refused to arm Ukraine, which enraged neoconservatives and the Banderite vanguardists of the Ukrainian diaspora, Hryckowian doesn’t seem to hold it against Donald Trump that he got impeached because he wanted to make the selling of Javelin missiles to Kyiv contingent on the Ukrainian government investigating the Biden family. I no longer have the screenshot, but Hryckowian once “liked” somebody’s Facebook profile picture of a dramatic wolfsangel swastika, a symbol used by Ukrainian neo-Nazis. As I’m writing this, I see he’s just shared on his Facebook account a two-page SCUVoters ad that recently appeared in the Ukrainian Weekly:

THE DEMOCRATS VISION OF AMERICA … Chaos & Anarchy … ANTIFA/BLM Marxist roots … Burning American Flag ● Founders of KKK ● Against desegregation ● Virtue Signaling ● Cancel Culture ● Infanticide ● Harvesting baby parts … Rewriting History with 1619 Project … VOTE REPUBLICAN TO SAVE AMERICA.

Askold Lozynskyj, the chairman of the Building Management Committee, is a rather fanatical multimillionaire attorney who lives in New Jersey. He’s probably the most well known living U.S. member of the OUN-B. His father was also a high-level Banderite. Lozynskyj has been said to be the mastermind behind recent powerplays in the Ukrainian American community. He is however an advisor to Ukrainian Americans for Biden. “This election,” Lozynskyj wrote in an opinion piece posted on the UAB website and Facebook page, “is not about politics, the economy, or even the pandemic. This is about decency.” Forty years ago on the eve of the 1980 presidential election, Askold Lozynskyj participated in a “coup” orchestrated by the Banderite “Ukrainian Liberation Front” that the UCCA has never recovered from.

The Illinois Division is the most active branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and is dominated by fellow travelers of the OUN-B. The UCCA-Illinois president was an assistant chairperson of the 2019 Bloomingdale convention, which received official greetings from the UCCA national president and the OUN-B international leader, among others. The overall pro-Biden Ukrainian American establishment essentially rubber-stamped this decisive, controversial meeting held in the Trumpian Banderite stomping grounds outside Chicago, and the power might have gone to the heads of the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters.

The above photo of Suburban Council members at a reception in October 2014 with then-Governor of Indiana Mike Pence and Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam is featured on the homepage of SCUVoters.com. “This evening had a lot of people whispering of a Pence/Roskam 2016 bid,” said the SCUV Facebook page at the time. Roskam, a Republican defeated at the polls in 2018, had a good relationship with his constituents in the Suburban Council.

Seen above, standing left to right, is Roman Holowka, president of ODFFU Branch 31, Maria Korkatsch, vice-president of UCCA-Illinois, Ros Saciuk, president of SCUVoters, Mike Pence, soon to be elected Vice President, John Jaresko, president of St. Andrew’s UOC, and Jaroslav Sydorenko, today a vice president of St. Andrew’s parish board. A sensational complaint submitted to the New York Attorney General’s office last year on the morning of the “extraordinary convention” in Bloomingdale insinuated that Sydorenko is one of the local leaders of the OUN-B.

Six days before the evening with Pence and Roskam, the ODFFU-affiliated Ukrainian Center in Palatine, which shares an address with the Suburban Council, hosted a reception to honor Stepan Bandera in recognition of the 55th anniversary of his assassination by the KGB. Earlier there was a memorial service for Bandera in the neighboring Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church. One day before posting its photos taken at the Pence-Roskam reception, the SCUVoters Facebook page shared ODFFU-Palatine’s pictures of the Bandera memorial event showing that Holowka, Korkatsch, Saciuk, and Sydorenko attended. The Suburban Council president apparently bartended at the Palatine reception. Branch 31 of the ODFFU also posted an image of a two-day old statement by the international leadership of the OUN-B relating to the anniversary of Bandera’s death.

Pictured left to right in October 2014: Maria Korkatsch, Roman Holowka, Mike Pence, John Jaresko, and Jaroslav Sydorenko. Suburban Council president Ros Saciuk may have taken the photo.

There is another group based out of the same Ukrainian Center that needs to be addressed: the Palatine branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM), which is an international organization affiliated with the OUN-B, also founded in 1946 like the ODFFU. The Ukrainian American Youth Association has a summer camp in Baraboo, Wisconsin, a few hours’ drive northwest of Chicago. This year’s annual “SCUVoters Baraboo Camping Weekend” on CYM property was cancelled due to COVID, so the Suburban Councillors found another place for their three-day event, at which masks were “discouraged.” The Banderite Baraboo getaway is the home of four prominently displayed busts of 20th century Ukrainian nationalist leaders who were killed, including Bandera. On June 30, 2013, the 72nd anniversary of the OUN-B’s declaration of a short-lived pro-Nazi government in German-occupied Lviv, the newly erected monuments were “blessed.”

Ukrainian American Youth Association, Baraboo, WI - 6/30/2013

Bandera’s bust is positioned on the far right. Next to him is Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the OUN-B’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and before that the company commander of a German auxiliary police battalion that in all likelihood massacred Jews. In any case, the UPA murdered tens of thousands of Poles and several thousand Jews who had otherwise survived the “Holocaust by Bullets” in Ukraine. A UPA re-enactment group based in Chicago calling itself the Greywolves Company participated in the blessing of the highly problematic CYM summer camp busts. One of the most unbelievable claims of the anonymous complaint submitted to the NY AG’s office last year about the present-day U.S. Banderites is that the alleged Chicago-area leaders of the OUN-B are involved in paramilitary activity. I’m guessing the complainant was thinking of the Greywolves.

This photo and the one above it were posted on the Facebook page of CYM-Palatine president Myron Wasiunec (red shirt) in 2013. His caption: "I guess we messed with the wrong UPA re-enactors! With [...] at Oselia Beskyd [the CYM summer camp] in Baraboo after the blessing of the new monuments to our heroes."

Auditorium ready for tomorrow’s Day of the Defender and 75th Anniversary of UPA Concert,” John Jaresko posted in October 2017 along with some pictures to the St. Andrew UOC Facebook group he created ten years ago. Day of the Defenders of Ukraine is a Ukrainian national(ist) holiday first decreed in 2014 that not coincidentally falls on October 14, the sham birthday of the UPA.

It was apparently important to the Banderites to start a myth that their WW2-era military arm of ethnic cleansers was established in late 1942, before the German surrender at Stalingrad in early 1943, after which the OUN-B really created its ostensibly anti-Nazi partisan army and stole the name of another armed group with the same name. UPA veterans spun a number of myths about their history, such as that they saved Jews instead of killed them. The Banderites secretly reconciled with the Germans in 1944, the same year that a number of Ukrainian SS soldiers joined the UPA after the Battle of Brody.

John Jaresko, his mother, and Jaroslav Sydorenko were three of four people from the church who received a thank you in the program made for Bloomingdale’s 2017 Day of the Defenders, which in this case was dedicated to the fake 75th birthday of the UPA and to a lesser extent the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the Ukrainian National Republic. The event was sponsored by the “75th Anniversary of Ukrainian Insurgent Army Commemoration Committee,” UCCA-Illinois, the (Ukrainian) Heritage Foundation of 1st Security Federal Savings Bank, the Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union, and the Ukrainian Consulate in Chicago.

A leading member of the Palatine branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association served as the Master of Ceremonies. The Day of the Defenders organizing committee included the names of those accused by last year’s anonymous complainant of being the Chicago-area OUN-B leaders: Ihor Diaczun, Jaroslav Sydorenko, and Pavlo Bandriwsky. Readers of this blog may remember the third name. He is another vice president of UCCA-Illinois, a banker, and the last known treasurer of the International Council in Support of Ukraine. The International Council is the coordinating body of OUN-B affiliated NGOs around the world, which as of 2011 each paid an annual membership fee of $200.

UAB adviser Askold Lozynskyj chaired the International Council (2008-13) after his presidency of the Ukrainian World Congress (1998-2008). Bandriwsky became the Council’s treasurer in 2013, and presumably served out his five year term. He might have been re-(s)elected to the position in 2018. Bandriwsky was the COO of the Ukrainian 1st Security Federal Savings Bank, which created a Heritage Foundation in 1996, before it was bought in 2004 by MB Financial Bank, which he became the regional manager of at that point.

Both banks were based in Chicago, and the Ukrainian Heritage Foundation lives on. The anonymous complainant accused it of being an OUN-B front and Bandriwsky its most influential board member. Taras Drozd, the foundation’s president, sent official greetings to the Bloomingdale convention. He was on the Defenders Day organizing committee, and so was the marketing manager of Selfreliance Federal Credit Union. Chrystya Wereszczak, the national president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the ODFFU, is the vice president of the Heritage Foundation.

The day’s long-winded ceremonies got started with a procession to the “Monument for the ‘Heavenly 100 Brigade’ and all the Heroes of Ukraine,” where the grandchildren of UPA veterans placed memorial wreaths at the base of the monument with Larysa Gerasko, the General Counsel of Ukraine in Chicago. Then came the Posting of Colors—the flags of the OUN-B, the UPA, and the local organized Ukrainian community, three of them affiliated with the OUN-B. Following the singing of the U.S. and Ukrainian national anthems and an introductory memorial service by St. Andrew’s clergy and choir, Gerasko delivered the opening remarks. Ihor Diaczun, the president of UCCA-Illinois and assistant chairperson of the “extraordinary [ODFFU] convention,” filled the “Community Greeting” slot.

After some more speeches, attendees made their way to the special section of the church cemetery reserved for UPA veterans, and the Greywolves Company—described as a “Military-Historical Brigade” in the program—served as the Honor Guard. His Excellency Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, “responsible for all Ukrainian Catholics in the United States west of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi,” said a prayer for the dead, and the pastor of St. Andrew’s UOC blessed the graves of the UPA veterans. The St. Andrew and CYM-Palatine choirs each sang and the Greywolves performed a military salute, after which everyone finally moved into the church auditorium that John Jaresko was proud to have prepared for them.

The UPA memorial concert began with a grand entrance of the above-mentioned flags to the tune of the OUN-UPA anthem, the “March of Ukrainian Nationalists.” Bishop Benedict said his opening prayer, and CYM’s Master of Ceremonies read her opening remarks. The first performance was called “To Our Bright Future” by CYM-Palatine’s School of Ukrainian Dance. Then came a little ditty called “Great Testaments of the Heroes of Ukraine” by an ODFFU-31 member. Following a medley of Ukrainian songs and a keynote address by Ihor Kozak, a prominent Canadian Banderite in good standing with the Conservative Party, students of St. Andrew’s School of Ukrainian Studies read some poems, such as “In memory of the Ukrainian partisans.”

After that, the CYM-Chicago choir performed a collection of UPA songs accompanied by a slideshow of UPA veterans buried in the church cemetery. Things didn’t end there, but we’ve spent enough time on the SCUVoters’ corner of the universe. We’ll take a closer look at the forces behind Ukrainian Americans for Biden in Part 2.

Ukrainian American Youth Association, Baraboo, WI - 07/08/2017. The large Cyrillic letters made of wood on the right: "U.P.A." 
Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam speaks to SCUVoters at a town hall event in August 2015 at the OUN-B affiliated Ukrainian Cultural Center in Palatine, Illinois. The flag in the middle is for the Ukrainian American Youth Association.

UPDATE (February 2021): After Donald Trump lost the election, the SCUVoters supported the local “Stop the Steal” movement. As seen in the picture below, at least a couple members of SCUVoters were at a Stop the Steal protest in Schaumburg, Illinois in mid-December.

Holding the Ukrainian flag on the left is Jaroslav Sydorenko, the head of Palatine’s ODFFU Branch 31, which has apparently supported the OUN-B’s efforts to “coup” the New York-based Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine. Second to the right is Rostyk Saciuk, the president of SCUVoters and a member of the illegitimate ODFFU board of directors named at the 2019 convention held in nearby Bloomingdale. Saciuk was therefore a “respondent” in the ODFFU lawsuit recently dismissed in the Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Recently I realized I overlooked someone involved in the Suburban Council: the man that took the picture of then-Governor Mike Pence with members of SCUVoters in 2014. I’m talking about retired army colonel Roman Golash, who at least used to chair the Palatine branch of the Ukrainian American Veterans. His father was a leading member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) veterans group in the United States. Col. Golash unsuccessfully ran for a seat on a local school board in 2013 and 2015. By his second attempt, he led the Palatine chapter of ACT! for America, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group. In the spring of 2015, Golash publicly warned audiences that Muslims are destroying the U.S. from within. “This is one of the main goals of Common Core,” he said: “the Muslim religion is being inculcated into the classroom.”