Winter Updates: Diaspora Edition

Canadians Target Swedish Historian — Manhattan Supreme Court Ruling — & More

Bohdan Khodakovsky, 25, leader of the extremist organization “Tradition and Order,” addresses the January 30, 2021 “Bandera Readings” in Kyiv with Australian OUN-B leader Stefan Romaniw frozen on screen behind him.

O Canada, We Stand on Guard for…

On Saturday, February 27, the Canadian branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association held a Zoom webinar on “disinformation” about the late Ukrainian fascist Stepan Bandera, starring Svyatoslav Lypovetsky, a nationalist historian from Ukraine who is part of the international leadership of the Banderite youth group.

A week later, someone vandalized Bandera’s grave in Munich by pouring what looks like gallons of tar all around it. Within 48 hours, the Kyiv Post published a “ludicrous” opinion piece on the incident by Stefan Romaniw of Melboune, Australia—the international leader of Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). As usual, the newspaper failed to identify him as such.

“It is a shame that Stepan Bandera is being demonized not only by Moscow's propaganda, but also by respected German historians,” tweeted the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, ironically named Andrij Melnyk (a chief rival of Bandera). Incredibly, the German head of the Green Party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation in Kyiv possibly got even more upset, firing off more than a dozen tweets and a call for German authorities to “provide protection for the grave” of “Ukrainian freedom champion Stepan Bandera.”

In late 2019, somebody defaced a larger than life bust of Roman Shukhevych, a wartime OUN-B leader, Nazi collaborator, and ethnic cleanser, displayed outside at the Ukrainian Youth Association’s compound in Edmonton, Alberta. Police, presumably misled by those that called them, initially investigated the incident as a hate crime, but ultimately declined to do so. Nevertheless in 2020 the Canadian government paid for the installation of a CCTV system on the premises with funds from a “security infrastructure program” intended for “non-profit organizations that are at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime.”

Last summer, many readers of the Bandera Lobby Blog will recall, someone spray-painted the words “Nazi war monument” on a cenotaph in Oakville, Ontario dedicated to Ukrainian veterans of the Nazi Waffen-SS. (Edmonton’s Banderite youth complex got that government grant to increase security shortly thereafter.) Once again, Canadian police initially investigated the vandalism as a “hate-motivated offense,” sparking bewilderment across the country and around much of the world that the monument existed in the first place.

After the alleged “hate crime” against the “Nazi war monument” became an international news story, much of the nationalist-dominated, organized Ukrainian community in Canada doubled down on the notion that the graffiti was in fact a serious hate crime against Ukrainians. Some would have you believe that the western Ukrainians who voluntarily joined the “Galicia Division” of the Waffen-SS were freedom fighters who did nothing wrong. CYM-Canada produced the following graphic amidst a probably coordinated effort to resist what it called “Russia’s disinformation.”

“Read more here,” says the image, providing a link to the website of the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC), the above-board vanguard of the OUN-B network in Canada, which shares its headquarters building with other Banderite front groups on Toronto’s Plastics Avenue, including CYM and the newspaper Homin Ukrainy.

These organizations are united under the LUC-led umbrella of the so-called Canadian Council in Support of Ukraine (CCSU)—also headquartered on Plastics Avenue—which in 2012 wrote a letter to Lund University in Sweden to baselessly accuse historian Per Rudling of borderline hate speech, among other things. A number of academics signed an open letter in his defense.

Almost ten years later, the OUN-B appears to be waging a coordinated campaign to once again put pressure on Rudling’s university, apparently seeking to hold him responsible for the vandalism that occurred in Canada. LUC leaders accused Rudling of defaming “the Ukrainian national liberation movement” in addition to “inciting hatred and, possibly, violence towards our community,” referencing the vandalism and an alleged bomb threat.

“Plastics Avenue seems to take exception to me setting up a research environment dedicated to studying Ukrainian long-distance nationalism, identity politics, and the far right,” explains Per Rudling, whose budding “research environment” in Northern Europe is backed by a million dollar grant matched by Lund University. “The Banderites appear to have made a conscious effort to discredit me in the eyes of the top university management.” Fortunately, and frankly, unsurprisingly, they have failed to do so, despite framing the issue as potentially a matter of life and death.

“Orest Steciw seems to be the driving force in all this,” observes Rudling. In addition to writing several emails to various administrators, Steciw, the LUC’s elderly executive director, co-authored at least two letters. The second one—suggesting that if the prestigious university fails to take action against Rudling, it will “inadvertently become a proxy in Russia’s hybrid warfare campaign”—went out several days after CYM’s recent webinar on Stepan Bandera.

In the summer of 2012, five leaders of CCSU member organizations, including Orest Steciw and Homin Ukrainy editor Oleh Romanyshyn (the nephew of Bandera’s deputy turned successor Yaroslav Stetsko), called on all “nationally conscious Ukrainian patriots in Ukraine and the Diaspora” to demand several things, last but not least, “that enemy agents of Moscow’s fifth column be deported from Ukraine.” Later that year, the same five Canadian Banderite leaders wrote to Lund University about Per Rudling for the first time.

“The practice of free speech does not include the right to conscript the authority of Lund University in propagating Russian disinformation,” Orest Steciw tried to explain in his letter to the Head of Faculty Administration dated March 3, 2021. It seems to me what Steciw really meant is that free speech does not include the right to offend the memory of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and for that reason, Per Rudling certainly will not be the last scholar the Banderites try to silence.

The Crisis in ‘Little Ukraine’

Four days prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump supporter Mykola Hryckowian called into a nationalist event held in Kyiv from the heart of Manhattan’s mostly vanished “Little Ukraine” neighborhood, sitting in a meeting room on a top floor of a building formerly known as the Home of the Ukrainian Liberation Front. It is the historic headquarters of the Organizations of the Ukrainian Liberation Front, a Cold War-era coalition of OUN-B front groups in the United States.

As previously reported by the Bandera Lobby Blog, the Manhattan building is at the center of an ongoing feud for control of it and the entity that owns it, the Organization for the Defense of the Four Freedoms for Ukraine (ODFFU, est. 1946)—arguably the key U.S. member of the World Ukrainian Liberation Front, now named the “International Council in Support of Ukraine” in English. (The LUC-led CCSU is its Canadian branch.)

Hryckowian sat in front of a bust of Stepan Bandera and what looks like a sticker of the OUN-B’s militant, antisemitic Youth Nationalist Congress, which has largely spearheaded the so-called “Capitulation Resistance Movement” (ROK) in Ukraine since before its launch in October 2019. Hryckowian was participating in a small, live-streamed ROK event dedicated to the New Year. He spoke after Stefan Romaniw of Australia and Orest Steciw of Canada.

The day before, the Supreme Court of New York County (Manhattan) essentially ruled in the OUN-B’s favor by denying a petition to set aside an “Extraordinary Convention” of the ODFFU held in September 2019 that the organization’s leadership denounced as an attempted coup.

The “extraordinary” meeting, organized by the OUN-B, took place in the suburbs of Chicago and declared Hryckowian the new leader of the ODFFU. It did so on the basis that 12 branches allegedly authorized the emergency meeting, but a majority later denied it. Apparently none of this mattered to the court.

According to the judge who dismissed the case, “Since the purported copy of the [ODFFU] bylaws upon which the petition is based is not in admissible form insofar as it is not an original or certified copy with a certified translation from Ukrainian to English, petitioners have necessarily failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that the elections held on September 28, 2019 were irregular.”

The judge didn’t rule that the Hryckowian-led group is the legitimate ODFFU board of directors. She just declined to do the opposite, for the above-stated reason. The implications of this non-decisive ruling are still rather unclear to me, but the civil war within the ODFFU is probably far from over.

Munich, October 2019, seen left to right visiting Stepan Bandera’s grave for the 50th anniversary of his death: Pavlo Bandriwsky, unidentified woman, Bohdan Harhaj, Walter Zaryckyj, and Borys Potapenko—all defendants (“respondents”) in the 2019-21 ODFFU lawsuit, which began just days prior.

Bohdan Kachor, a lifelong member of the OUN-B, passed away in February in Kerhonkson, New York. At 96 years old, he was the president of the OUN-B’s World League of Ukrainian Political Prisoners, headquartered in an apartment building on St. Marks Avenue in Manhattan, adjoined to the former Home of the Ukrainian Liberation Front on Second Avenue.

To my knowledge, the U.S. leadership of the OUN-B has only publicly confirmed its existence in the 21st century by co-signing death notices placed in Ukrainian American newspapers for notable OUN-B members. In Bohdan Kachor’s case, his was published on Facebook by the Hryckowian-led faction of the ODFFU.

A rather kooky Millennial from Ukraine who appears to have been brought under the wing of—and potentially radicalized by—the OUN-B in the U.S. several years ago shared Kachor’s death notice on Facebook. He used the opportunity to predict that Ulana Suprun, the former acting Healthcare Minister of Ukraine (2016-19), born and raised in Detroit, will in due time become the head of the Manhattan branch of the ODFFU, presumably in order to use her star power to take the OUN-B coup over the finish line. (Years ago he posted a selfie with Suprun and identified her as a member of the inactive Manhattan branch.) I don’t expect his prediction to come true, and wasn’t going to mention it, but Hryckowian “liked” the post, so who knows.

Subscribers may recall that in January 2020, the OUN-B’s fixer, Askold Lozynskyj, months after organizing the controversial “extraordinary convention” in Bloomingdale, Illinois, convened a shady “emergency” meeting in the former Home of the Ukrainian Liberation Front, this time to reactivate the ODFFU’s defunct Manhattan branch under OUN-B control. “This department is unfortunately inactive but virtually captured by thieves from Brooklyn,” Lozynskyj wrote in a New Year’s Day email to his associates. Two weeks later his Ukrainian Free University Foundation hosted the meeting in its office in the Manhattan ODFFU building, which Hryckowian and co. had “elected” or “appointed” him the manager of at their conclave in Bloomingdale or shortly thereafter.

As I wrote back in October, “Several dissenting ODFFU members showed up in protest. According to the plaintiffs’ side of the story, they passed a motion to end the meeting but Lozynskyj’s group proceeded after they left… When the anti-Lozynskyj crowd returned, punches were thrown.” Now that somebody has sent me footage of what appears to be the incident in question, it looks like both sides exaggerated the physical confrontation that took place.

Lozynskyj is the one whose bald spot the camera is almost focused on, saying “get out!” as well as “you’re such a moron” and “you’re so stupid,” among other things. (As for “Slavko,” that’s apparently Slavko Melnyk, the Canadian head of the Manhattan branch of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, which the OUN-B appears to remain in control of.) In conclusion, an excerpt from my original report on the Manhattan lawsuit and the ongoing struggle for control of the ODFFU:

In the coming days Lozynskyj wrote a notice to ODFFU members (“Lying, pilfering and now assaulting”) in which he denounced the “gang of thugs” and “post-Soviet style property raiders” who disturbed his meeting, held in the building he declared himself the manager of. “The gang included, among others,” Lozynskyj tells us, “an 81 year old wearing a neck brace who has been involved in provocations his entire life” in addition to a “purported businessman who is essentially a criminal assaulting people and often out of control because he is the son of a cop [and] considers himself above the law or at least immune from police arrest.” Lozynskyj went on inadvertently half-describing himself: “We live in unusual times… The community simply does not want to believe that there are crooks, provocateurs and essentially bad people within its ranks… My memo to members of the Ukrainian community — fight your enemies but beware your so called Ukrainian friends. They represent [an] equal if not greater danger.”