The World Banderite Council

Ukes, Kooks & Spooks
19 min readJun 18, 2019
Stefan Romaniw, present-day leader of the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B)

I think Jonathan Brunson hit the nail on the head when he said the truth about Ukraine “is actually bizarrely close to Russia’s gleeful, fake news fiction:”

A diaspora-funded cabal of western Ukrainian anti-communists and crypto-fascists has been quietly plotting to take over the rest of Ukraine since independence in 1991. They have patiently interpenetrated ruling spheres of electoral politics, culture, education, civics, and the power ministries to outlaw opponents and ensure the impunity of their own political violence specialists in public service. They have also convinced the West to support them in rewriting the primarily Soviet history — hence illegitimate to nationalists — of the Holocaust by Bullets in World War II-era western Ukraine.

On November 22, 2013, one day after the first “Euromaidan” protest, an obscure international coordinating body of Ukrainian NGOs affiliated with the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN-B, AKA OUN (R)] convened in Kyiv to elect a new chairman of its presidium. The contemporary leader of the OUN-B, an Australian named Stefan Romaniw, participated in the meeting, hosted by the Stepan Bandera Center for National Revival located at 9 Yaroslaviv Val Street. The OUN-B affiliated “Way to Victory” (Shlyakh Peremohy) newspaper and Youth Nationalist Congress (MNK) are headquartered there. The MNK, one of the foremost nationalist youth groups in the country, was originally conceived of as the youth wing of the OUN-B émigré-led Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (CUN). The Kyiv office of the Ukrainian Information Service (UIS), headquartered in London, can be found at the same address.

On the front of the building is a memorial plaque dedicated to the “godfather” of the MNK, Ivan Havdyda, who died in 2003 at the age of 37. He’s believed to have been murdered, although authorities ruled his death an accident. Born in Soviet Ukraine, Havdyda joined the leadership of the OUN-B and CUN in the 1990s and co-founded the MNK. He’s also credited with having initiated the World Council of Ukrainian State Organizations (Rady Ukrayinsʹkykh Derzhavnytsʹkykh Orhanizatsiy Svitu, RUDOS), otherwise known in English as the “International Council in Support of Ukraine” (ICSU).

The Council is the post-Soviet successor of the Cold War-era “Organizations of the Ukrainian Liberation Front,” which was in turn directed by Stepan Bandera’s “Foreign Units of the OUN” (ZChOUN), the post-World War 2 émigré leadership of the far-right OUN-B. It doesn’t appear the OUN-B’s relationship with the Front’s present-day incarnation, the World Council, has changed much, except that since 2001 the OUN-B has been led by diaspora Ukrainians. However, whereas the Ukrainian Liberation Front often struggled to find support from the political establishment in the West — and not just fringe, radical, and/or particularly hawkish figures — the “International Council in Support of Ukraine” (ICSU/RUDOS) seems to have done so with relative ease.

As a result of the November 22 meeting, a former Canadian politician Yuri Shymko became the new RUDOS chairman, taking over for Askold Lozynskyj, a longtime member of the Liberation Front and former president of the World Congress of Ukrainians (1998–2008). Shymko’s daughter “has advised successive Canadian governments on foreign policy … and was part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s delegation on three official visits to Ukraine.” Lisa Shymko founded the Canadian-Ukrainian Parliamentary Resource Center in Kyiv as a project director for the Canadian International Development Agency (1998–2001) and the founding executive director of the Canadian Friends of Ukraine (1991–2004). She’s also served as the president of the OUN-B affiliated League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, among other things.

In 2014, Lisa Shymko participated in a ceremony with the Canadian Minister of National Defense Robert Nicholson in Ontario as the first shipment of Canadian military aid made its way to Ukraine. The following year, she met the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk when he visited Canada to discuss a Free Trade Agreement with his outgoing counterpart Stephen Harper. And in 2017, Lisa and Yuri Shymko snapped a picture with the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Secretary of Defense James Mattis when the latter visited Kyiv and “signaled his personal support for providing weapons” to Ukraine.

Left to right: Marie Yovanovitch, Lisa Shymko, James Mattis, and Yuri Shymko in Kyiv, August 2017

Joining Yuri Shymko as a member of the RUDOS presidium in late 2013 were representatives of OUN-B affiliated organizations from Ukraine, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece, including Shymko’s first and second deputies, Borys Potapenko and Andriy Bihun, and treasurer, Pavlo Bandriwsky. Potapenko was the executive director of the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC) and Bihun remains the world chairman of the Ukrainian Youth Association (SUM). Bandriwsky, in addition to being the regional president of MB Financial Bank since 2004, is a longtime leader of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and the Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms of Ukraine (ODFFU) in the Chicago area.

The LUC and ODFFU are the core members of RUDOS in Canada and the United States, each created in allegiance with the OUN-B in the 1940s. Before 1991–1992, the LUC was called the Canadian League for the Liberation of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) veterans societies of the US and Canada are also members of RUDOS. “Banderites” likewise created SUM in 1946, the Ukrainian American Youth Association in 1949, and the American Friends of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations by 1952.

Years later, in 1980, the OUN-B Liberation Front staged a “coup” in the UCCA. A number of organizations, led by the Ukrainian National Association (UNA), left the Congress Committee in protest. The UNA set up a “Committee for Law and Order in the UCCA,” and in return, “the 11 Liberation Front members of the UNA Supreme Assembly created the Committee for Law and Order in the UNA.” The threat of an OUN-B takeover of the UNA was defeated in 1982, when just four “Liberation Front members” were elected to the Supreme Assembly. One of them was Askold Lozynskyj, but he resigned at the first meeting. The UCCA remains under the heavy influence of the OUN-B. Pavlo Bandriwsky is a vice-president of the Illinois Division of the UCCA, as is Oles Striltschuk, the leader of the ODFFU. According to the old website of the “International Council in Support of Ukraine,” the UCCA was a member of RUDOS in 2015–2016, if not earlier and/or still today.

Oles Striltschuk and Pavlo Bandriwsky (goatee) with Senate Ukraine Caucus Co-Chair/Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) in 2014 (left) and then-Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in 2016 (right)

The World Council of Ukrainian State Organizations, which is to say, the present-day transnational OUN-B network, is represented in Ukraine by the “Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement,” which Per Anders Rudling once called a “facade organization” of the OUN-B. It’s headquartered on the third floor of Lviv’s notoriously problematic Lonsky Street Prison National Memorial Museum — in fact on Stepan Bandera Street. The “research center” and “museum” (which Stephen Harper visited in 2010) are both closely tied to RUDOS.

In 2012, the World Council — “International Conference,” rather — organized a “Canada-wide lecture tour” by Ruslan Zabily, who has directed both the OUN-B Research Center and Lonsky Museum. After a postdoctoral fellow at Sweden’s Lund University, Per Anders Rudling, spoke out against the tour, the so-called “Canadian Conference in Support of Ukraine (CCSU)” sent a letter to the university’s vice-chancellor accusing Rudling of borderline “hate speech.” The first to sign the note on behalf of the “CCSU” was Orest Steciw, the elderly president of the League of Ukrainian Canadians. Steciw used to represent the Canadian League at the annual conference of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which one deserter characterized as an “Anti-Semitic International.” Askold Lozynskyj and Borys Potapenko also attended WACL conferences back in the day. According to the Ukrainian Weekly, Potapenko coordinated “a major campaign in protest against the showing of the television movie ‘Holocaust’” in 1978-1979, several months after attending WACL-11 and representing the UCCA at the Third World Congress for Free Ukrainians.

From left to right: Orest Steciw, Ted Opitz, Stephen Harper, Ruslan Zabily, Borys Potapenko, ??? (Canada, 2012)

Earlier in 2012, on the eve of that year’s NATO summit in Chicago, the US and Canada Divisions of the “International Conference in Support of Ukraine,” in cooperation with the UCCA and Center for US-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR), organized a “NATO conference” of their own, hosted by the Illinois Division of the UCCA. Pavlo Bandriwsky moderated the event. Oles Striltschuk and Borys Potapenko delivered the opening remarks. The first panel featured John Herbst, former US Ambassador to Ukraine, a staple of CUSUR events, and Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, former and future head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU). The panel was moderated by Walter Zaryckyj, longtime executive director of the CUSUR and the external affairs officer of the ODFFU since 2015. Like Lozynskyj and Potapenko, he used to teach at a “political-ideological” winter camp for Ukrainian-American nationalist youth in Ellenville, New York that glorified the OUN-B. Also speaking at the “NATO conference” was Ian Brzezinski, Orest Steciw, and the noted far-right Ukrainian educator Serhiy Kvit, among others.

A statement issued afterwards by the presidents of the North American member organizations of the ICSU listed 136 Second Avenue in Manhattan as the headquarters of the US Division. This is the address of the old “OULF [Organizations of the Ukrainian Liberation Front] Home.” That building, owned by the ODFFU, has long flown under the radar as the de facto headquarters of the OUN-B in the United States since 1977, on the same block as the “Ukrainian National Home” and the classic 24-hour Ukrainian American restaurant “Veselka.” It also used to be the home of the Ukrainian Division of the Cold War-era Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), which Scott and Jon Lee Anderson called “the largest and most important umbrella for former Nazi collaborators in the world.” Bandera’s deputy turned successor Yaroslav Stetsko, a war criminal, Nazi collaborator, OUN-B ideologue, and WACL architect, led the ABN from the get-go in 1946 until he died forty years later. His wife, also his successor, co-founded the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1992.

Ukrainian Weekly, 1977

The ODFFU (rather, the “Liberation Front”) appears to have played a major role in the creation of the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR), which organized its first annual “Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood” roundtable in 2000. Featured speakers included Anders Åslund, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Paula Dobriansky, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Wolfowitz. The Washington DC event was co-sponsored by the ODFFU and UCCA as well as the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, American Foreign Policy Council, Freedom House, International Republican Institute, and National Democratic Institute. Patrons included Shell Gas, Bechtel, Coca-Cola Ukraine, Raytheon, Philip Morris, and RAND.

Most telling of all, among the members of the steering committee, chaired by Walter Zaryckyj, there was Stefko Bandera, grandson of the wanna-be Hitler of Ukraine; Borys Potapenko, who coordinated the conference; Bohdan Fedorak, who resigned as the national vice-chair of Ukrainians for Bush in 1988 after he was identified as the “top OUN-B leader for external affairs in the United States”; and Mark Suprun, an ODFFU-ite whose spouse (Ulana Suprun) is today the Healthcare Minister of Ukraine and quite friendly with the contemporary Ukrainian far-right, including the MNK.

In the early 2000s, since 1991–1992, the “Ukrainian Liberation Front” was called the “Organizations of the Ukrainian State Front.” On June 30, 2003, the day of the 62nd anniversary of the OUN-B’s attempt to establish a Ukrainian Nazi client state in Lviv, the newly renamed “Coordination Council of State Organizations in Ukraine” met at the Stepan Bandera Center for National Revival in Kyiv. The Council’s leader, the MNK “godfather” Ivan Havdyda, chaired the meeting. He died exactly two months later. In 2010, the so-called “World Conference of Ukrainian State Organizations” (SCUDOS) sent a heartfelt letter to the outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko to thank him for decreeing Stepan Bandera a “Hero of Ukraine.” Two years later, after its NATO conference and spat with Per Rudling, the Conference wrote the President of the European Parliament in response to the latter’s denunciation of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. According to a Google Translation of their open letter, SCUDOS defended Svoboda as “nationalistic, similar to the ideology of George Washington in America, Winston Churchill in the United Kingdom, Charles de Gaulle in France, and many, many others.” That being said, “Of course, there are members of ‘Svoboda’ who are racists, anti-Semites, and xenophobes, just as there are in the ranks of the Republican Party in the United States…”

By November 2013, the “World Conference” (SCUDO) was renamed the “World Council” (RUDOS). The following month, less than a week before Christmas, the leaders of the OUN-B and OUN-M signed a joint statement, apparently inspired by recent events in Ukraine, that “the time has come to consolidate the Ukrainian nationalist movement and, above all, to restore the unity of the OUN.” Seeing as the historic rival factions of the OUN haven’t formally unified to date, it’s unclear if this agreement between the Banderites and Melnykites was abandoned. On February 1, 2014, leaders of Svoboda and both wings of the OUN celebrated the 85th anniversary of the founding congress of the OUN in the Kyiv City State Administration, then occupied by (far-right) Euromaidan protesters.

OUN-B leader Stefan Romaniw (left) and OUN-M leader Bogdan Chervak (right), December 2013

Also in 2014, the treasurer of RUDOS, Pavlo Bandriwsky, denounced Vladimir Putin’s “fascist, xenophobic invasion of Ukraine” at a Chicago City Council committee meeting, and urged local officials to “tighten that noose” Putin “has put his neck in…” He wanted them to cut Chicago’s sister city status with Moscow to protest Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Later that year, Oles Striltschuk suggested that the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy should serve as a global call to action “to compel Vladimir Putin to stand down.” The OUN-B network, like many others in 2014, demanded sanctions on Russia, and various aid for Ukraine, presumably in order to “tighten that noose.” During the Cold War, Yaroslav Stetsko all but advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Soviet Russia, believing God and the United States government would spare Ukraine.

In October, the US-Ukraine Foundation hosted the first meeting of an “Ad Hoc Committee for Ukraine (AHCU),” moderated by Mykola Hryckowian Jr., director of CUSUR’s Washington office, and the son of a very active UPA veteran. In the coming weeks, as he told it, “the Ukrainian American community pulled off what was described as a ‘minor miracle’ on Capitol Hill” by getting the Ukraine Freedom Support Act (USFA) passed and signed into law. “The effort to pass the USFA was coordinated by the Ad Hoc Committee for Ukraine.” Hryckowian co-chaired the committee with Borys Potapenko, the deputy leader of RUDOS.

According to Potapenko, when the neo-Nazi Chairman (then Deputy Chairman) of Ukraine’s Parliament, Andriy Parubiy, visited Washington DC in 2015, the AHCU “was instrumental in facilitating [his] public meetings and interviews, and helped in arranging a number of meetings [for him] in Congress.” Parubiy co-founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU) in 1991, which he left when it rebranded as Svoboda in 2004. The SNPU’s wolfsangel swastika lives on in the Azov movement, the relationship of which to RUDOS and the OUN-B is unclear. As for Parubiy, Potapenko was among the AHCU representatives who accompanied him during his stay in the US capital. Renamed the “America Ukraine Committee” (AUC), it organized Parubiy’s return to DC in February 2016 to again tour the US think tank community, in which time he met Michael Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia; and Anna Makanju, Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia at the Office of the Vice President.

Andriy Parubiy (center) with SUMA youth at the former “Ukrainian Liberation Front Home” in Manhattan, 2015

Both years, Parubiy spoke at CUCUR’s annual “US-Ukraine Security Dialogue” conference, co-sponsored by the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). Also in 2015, Parubiy visited the aforementioned ODFFU headquarters in Manhattan, as did Volodymyr Viatrovych, the controversial director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, a few months later. As the director of the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement, Viatrovych toured the United States in 2013 — also meeting with the AFPC — likely aided by the World Council of Ukrainian State Organizations. Before that, in 2012, the CUSUR, ODFFU, and UCCA co-sponsored a “gathering entitled: The Undaunted/The Legacy of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,” featuring speeches by Viatrovych, Zaryckyj, Lozynskyj, and Hryckowian. As told by the German political scientist Andreas Umland in 2017,

It was… surprising that Kyiv’s post-Euromaidan leadership decided to hand over the government’s main official organ responsible for memory affairs to a group of relatively young activists with unknown scholarly credentials. The Ukrainian Institute for National Remembrance (UINP) attached to Ukraine’s Cabinet of Minister was, in 2014, put under the control of a circle of nationalistic publicists with little previous attachment to Ukrainian academic institutions and limited international exposure. The UINP’s current staff is closely linked to a marginal, yet industrious Galician NGO called Center for Research into the Liberation Movement (TsDVR)… An increasingly odd facet of the activities of the UINP and TsDVR in the area of Ukrainian publishing, journalism, education, lobbying, toponomy etc. is that they happen against the background of an upsurge of critical research on the OUN-B in academic institutions in Ukraine, the EU and North America, during the last decade.

Pavlo Bandriwsky (left) and Volodymyr Viatrovych (2nd to left) at the 2016 “Heroes’ Holiday” in Chicago

In 2015, the OUN-B aligned Youth Nationalist Congress (MNK) co-sponsored a three-day summer “NATO camp” in the city of Skadovsk, less than 50 miles from Crimea, that promoted Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the EU. The camp was organized under the auspices of the NATO Information and Documentation Center (NIDC) in Ukraine, which back in 2007 co-sponsored (along with NED, IRI, and others) the inaugural “Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic Future” conference in Kyiv, organized by the CUSUR. Campers in Skadovsk were introduced to “NATO-Quest,” “Ukraine’s first social network about NATO,” another project supported by the NIDC. There was a press conference at Kherson State University before the Skadovsk camp opened. Among the speakers were Ivan Kishka, head of the MNK at the time; Stefan Romaniw, leader of the OUN-B and secretary-general of the World Congress of Ukrainians; and Borys Potapenko.

Several months later, in December, the “International Council in Support of Ukraine” organized a “Pinnacle Award Gala” in Toronto to honor the retired NATO commander, General Wesley Clark, where he was photographed with the RUDOS leaders Shymko and Potapenko. It appears that Clark was the first and last recipient of the award. Also present at the Toronto event was Anton Sestritsyn, who until recently had worked in the Canadian Parliament as an MP’s assistant. The following month, he began a stint as the executive coordinator of the League of Ukrainian Canadians and the “International Council in Support of Ukraine,” until 2017. That year, Borys Potapenko succeeded Yuri Shymko as RUDOS chairman, and Sestritsyn got a new job in the Canadian government. Today Anton Sestritsyn manages the community relations of Andrew Scheer, the Leader of the Conservative Party.

Last year, another Ukrainian organization officially joined the World Council of Ukrainian State Organizations: “Free People” (Vilʹni Lyudy), which has spearheaded the 2019 “Protect Ukraine” campaign against the newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky. Two days before Free People announced joining the OUN-B international coordinating body, its representatives presented another campaign of theirs, “Stop Revanche,” to the LUC and some Conservative Party politicians in Toronto, including James Bezan and Erin O’Toole, the shadow Ministers of National Defense and Foreign Affairs, respectively. According to Borys Potapenko, Free People’s joining RUDOS “was only a matter of time,” because they’ve been working together for years.

MNK activists set up “Free People” six months before the Euromaidan, and formed the 14, 15, and 35th “sotnias” (companies) of the “Maidan Self-Defense” (MSD). A former MNK leader turned People’s Deputy (MP) Oleg Medunytsya served as the deputy commander of the Maidan Self Defense, and the Free People leader Andriy Levus was put in charge of the MSD headquarters. After the “Revolution of Dignity,” Levus became the deputy leader of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and the Free People — the 14th sotnia in particular — spearheaded the creation of the Chernihiv volunteer battalion. Its commander joined the Military Council of then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party. In November 2014, Levus was elected to Parliament on the People’s Front party list.

Left to right: Serhii Kuzan (Free People), Lisa & Yuri Shymko, ??? — behind them: “Free People” members (2016)

In early 2015, the Free People coordinator Serhii Kuzan conducted a 24-day tour of Canada, “organized by the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC) and its Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund.” According to the NATO Association of Canada, Kuzan is “a Ukrainian lawyer from Kharkiv who, following the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, became an advisor to the Secretary of Ukraine’s Council on National Security and Defense. Currently, he is also…one of the main coordinators of the Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund.” While in Canada, he had dinner with Steciw and the Shymkos, gave a speech to the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, and spoke at an event in Toronto with a platoon leader from the notorious Aidar Battalion, which was accused of war crimes before the Ukrainian government disbanded it. Taking a look at “the new parties emerging in the country” the following summer, the Ukrainian Week said of the OUN-B tied project:

Vilni Liudy, or Free People, is one of the most anticipated new political platforms… The project is being seriously looked at by People’s Front [PF] as an alternative vehicle if PF bottoms out in the ratings… There is no single leader among the FP. Instead, it is run by a group of coordinators that they jokingly refer to among themselves as the “mejlis,” after the Crimean Tatar governing council, which establishes the main areas of action, and plans and carries out projects… So far, FP members categorically refuse to discuss an independent political project, but the first steps towards forming a party have already been taken…

Almost three years later, Free People is yet to form a political party, and perhaps it never will, but it might be just a matter of time. Six months after that article was written, in February 2017, Andriy Levus appeared at the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations’ eighth annual “Security Dialogue” conference. The retired NATO commander Wesley Clark was the featured speaker. Congressmen Sander Levin (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) welcomed guests to the event. Before the end of the month, Levus co-authored an article in the American Foreign Policy Council’s “Defense Dossier” with Borys Potapenko, then described as the “interim Chairman of the International Council in Support of Ukraine…a Member of the External Affairs Committee of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, and an Advisor to the American Foreign Policy Council.” Later that year, Levus, Kuzan, and Potapenko appeared at the annual “Ukrainian Days” festival in Chicago and lobbying event in Washington DC. They scored meetings on Capitol Hill with Jordan Andrews, then the Director of the Office of Eastern European Affairs at the State Department, as well as Sander Levin, co-chairman of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, and others.

Andriy Levus also appeared at that year’s 18th annual “Ukraine’s Quest” conference. In early 2018, he returned to Washington for “Security Dialogue IX,” at which his fellow Free People leader and People’s Front MP Sergey Vysotsky, not to forget the OUN-B chief Stefan Romaniw, also spoke. Andriy Levus was back again in October for CUSUR’s Quest roundtable. And this past February, he was at “Security Dialogue X” with Vysotsky on a panel chaired by Herman Pirchner, founder and president of the AFPC. Russian destabilization of Ukraine on the eve of its presidential elections was reportedly the primary issue discussed at the conference. John Bolton was invited to make the keynote speech, but he didn’t show up. Meanwhile, Ukrainians went on to elect their first Jewish president, a comedian with no political experience, by record margins. Free People and the MNK began to mobilize against him before the election, and continues to do so (nevermind his having won over 73% of voters), apparently in league with much of the contemporary far-right, which just formed a Svoboda-led electoral alliance including the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists. That being said, Levus and Vysotsky, as well as Parubiy and Viatrovych, have opted to join Poroshenko’s new “European Solidarity” party.

“Political technology has drawn us into an alternate reality,” the regional MNK turned Free People leader Ivan Kovalyk wrote shortly before launching “Protect Ukraine” in April 2019. Four days after the new “civic initiative” made its first Facebook post, it published an announcement urging Ukrainians to vote against Zelensky (that is, for the incumbent President Poroshenko), co-signed by a formidable, but familiar coalition of far-right leaders, including Andriy Levus, Free People; Stepan Bratsun, MNK; Stefan Romaniw, OUN-B; Bogdan Chervak, OUN-M; Igor Mazur, UNA-UNSO; Yuriy Shukhevych, former UNA-UNSO leader; Dmitry Yarosh, former Right Sector leader; and Andrei Tarasenko, the current Right Sector leader — not to forget Volodymyr Viatrovych and Serhiy Kvit. (Azov’s National Corps and C14 were notably absent; C14 and UNA-UNSO have since declined to join the new Svoboda-led electoral coalition.) Andriy Parubiy, the People’s Front insider and neo-Nazi Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, emerged as one of the “Protect Ukraine” campaign’s earliest and most visible supporters. Moving forward, he will be the highest ranking member of Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party, aside from the “Chocolate King” himself, who received less than 25% of the vote during this year’s presidential election.

April 2019 “Protect Ukraine” march, featuring flags of Ukraine, MNK, Free People, and UNA-UNSO

The day of the Poroshenko-Zelensky debate in Kyiv, there was a sizable “Protect Ukraine” march and rally, at which the incumbent candidate addressed his supporters. Free People and Youth Nationalist Congress flags were particularly prominent that day. “Out of respect for at least a third [more like 3/4ths] of Ukrainian citizens,” Zelensky had demanded Poroshenko, “you must publicly say that the debate will be held not with [the] Kremlin’s puppet … not with a pro-Russian guy, not a little Russian, not with a moron, not with a clown, but with the Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky.” Poroshenko obliged him, but it seems many of Zelensky’s nationalist critics are convinced the new President of Ukraine might as well be Putin’s puppet.

If Zelensky’s popularity plummets, and he dares to cross various red lines, the Ukrainian far-right could lead another uprising in Kyiv, in which case the OUN-B would mobilize its transnational network to lobby western governments on the revolutionaries’ behalf, and seek to capitalize on the support given to its many affiliate organizations in recent years. After all the Russian propaganda about a western-orchestrated neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine, reality once again proves itself stranger than fiction.

Free People leader Andriy Levus and Stefan Romaniw at the 2019 “US-Ukraine Report Card Summit