By Moss Robeson,
Published on Bandera Lobby Blog, Dec 8, 2022:
A detailed treatment of Ukraine politics as influenced by the far right in Ukraine and its connections with the West.
Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, last month told the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has suggested that now is the time for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, “We will not stop on this path under any circumstances. The Ukrainian military will not accept any negotiations, agreements or compromise decisions.” Since then, Zaluzhny has apparently taken a selfie with a portrait of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
In November 2021, Zaluzhny appointed Dmytro Yarosh, a notorious “Banderite” paramilitary leader who founded the extremist Right Sector, as an advisor. This is significant even if the arrangement didn’t last. Not long after Volodymyr Zelensky’s rise to power in spring 2019, Yarosh said the new Ukrainian president would be lynched if he “betrays” the nation. Just ahead of the election, the last season of Zelensky’s TV show aired, including a scene where the government is overthrown by Right Sector-style radicals who create a “Military-Nationalist” regime which causes the country to collapse into 28 independent states. According to Yarosh,
He just needs to understand one truth: Ukrainians should not be humiliated… Zelensky said in his inaugural speech that he was ready to lose his ratings, popularity, position… No, he would lose his life. He will hang on some tree on Khreschatyk [the main street of Kyiv] – if he betrays Ukraine and those people who died during the Revolution and the war.
A year ago, Zelensky seemed more concerned about a coup d’etat than a Russian invasion. In late November, he bizarrely told journalists there was a Russian-backed plot to overthrow him being planned for the first or second day of December, apparently referring to a rally in Kyiv being organized by the far-right “Capitulation Resistance Movement” to demand his resignation.
During the same marathon press conference, Zelensky lashed out at a controversial journalist (and speaker at the rally) for escalating tensions with Russia: “During the last week I had two or three international calls daily, including with the leadership of the EU, the US and Britain because of you.” Within a few days, Yuri Butusov, the provocative “journalist,” filmed himself firing artillery at eastern Ukraine to “avenge Holodomor,” and he joined a special council formed by the “Resistance Movement.” On December 1, Butusov and other nationalists demanded Zelensky’s removal from power. That month, journalist Leonid Ragozin referred to Butusov as a “spin doctor… who represents a group of security officials and politicians who attempted to impeach Zelensky by accusing him of betrayal in the so-called Wagnergate affair.”
I also just watched this live on Ukraine's biggest political talk show: Ukrainian journo/info warrior Yuriy Butusov brawls with pro-Russia MP Nestor Shufrych. Ex PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk, ex-nat'l security chief Oleksandr Danylyuk try to break 'em up. Ex-prez Poroshenko looks on. https://t.co/wlFFilhHIu
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 18, 2022
In early February 2022, a couple weeks before Putin’s invasion, Ragozin observed, “While downplaying the risk of a Russian offensive and even reprimanding the West for sowing panic, the Ukrainian leadership appears preoccupied with a different threat – that of a coup.” In the same article (“What is Zelenskiy afraid of?”), he described the “Capitulation Resistance Movement” as “a radical street force dedicated to toppling Zelensky” and “a paramilitary force associated with the nationalist opposition that coalesced around former president Petro Poroshenko.”
Nationalists officially launched the “Capitulation Resistance Movement” (Rukh Oporu Kapitulyatsiyi, ROK) in October 2019 to sabotage Zelensky’s peace mandate after the political newcomer crushed Poroshenko and his political party in elections held earlier that year. “No Capitulation” became the slogan of a broader, far-right-led campaign against Zelensky and his government, with protests typically spearheaded by the neo-Nazi Azov movement and the ROK. “Zelensky ran as a peace candidate,” and the hardliners vigorously opposed him, the late Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen explained to journalist Aaron Maté that month.
“He won an enormous mandate to make peace. So, that means he has to negotiate with Vladimir Putin.” But there was a major obstacle. Ukrainian fascists “have said that they will remove and kill Zelensky if he continues along this line of negotiating with Putin… His life is being threatened literally by a quasi-fascist movement in Ukraine.” Peace could only come, Cohen stressed, on one condition. “[Zelensky] can’t go forward with full peace negotiations with Russia, with Putin, unless America has his back,” he said. “Maybe that won’t be enough, but unless the White House encourages this diplomacy, Zelensky has no chance of negotiating an end to the war. So the stakes are enormously high.”
That was three years ago. After Russia invaded, the ROK became the FURM, or the Free Ukraine Resistance Movement, which has mostly flown under the radar. After interviewing a representative of the FURM in early March, a neoconservative US journalist referred to the “Resistance Movement” as an “insurgency-in-waiting, one of many, no doubt, that plans to resort to guerrilla warfare in the event that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempted conquest of Ukraine turns into a prolonged occupation of major population centers.”
After keeping tabs on this “quasi-fascist” movement for a few years (although it mostly went dark after Russia invaded), I feel comfortable speculating that the ROK was partially responsible for making Zelensky feel that negotiating peace with Russia would be too dangerous for him. I also suspect that once Putin declared war, Zelensky as an actor felt his only choice was to become an action hero, not just to rally international support for his country, but to become so popular in Ukraine and the West to rule out a coup d’etat.
However, I don’t think Zelensky feels anywhere close to enough Western (particularly US and UK) support to negotiate with Russia, which would make the mantra adopted by Kyiv and Washington, “Nothing About Ukraine Without Ukraine,” an epic Catch 22 if Zelensky is too scared of fascists in the military to take the initiative. It might be fit for a Dr. Strangelove sequel unthinkable to Stanley Kubrick because “the Ukraine” was hardly a blip on Washington’s radar during most of the original Cold War. But perhaps the new framework is not so different after all. In his book, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy, Christopher Simpson wrote this about US support for the remnants of the OUN-B’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army at the dawn of the Cold War:
In practice… contradictory forces within the U.S. national security community produced a situation in which some CIA and OPC agents promised nearly unlimited military support to the [Nationalist/Banderite] insurgency [in western Soviet Ukraine] but actually delivered relatively little. In the end, U.S. aid was given to the rebels only insofar as it served short-term… [U.S.] objectives, no more… Instead, they were used as martyrs—some of whom died bravely; some pathetically—and grist for the propaganda mills of both East and West.
Whatever the accuracy of my speculation may be, the “Capitulation Resistance Movement” (ROK/FURM) is undoubtedly a critical vehicle for the OUN-B, or the clandestine Banderite faction of the far-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which played an important role in the “Holocaust by Bullets” in western Ukraine, and largely hijacked the diaspora during the Cold War. I would argue that if World War III starts in Ukraine, then the OUN-B has also played an important role in fulfilling this prophecy which the Banderites began to preach by 1945. “Do we… really want to provoke another world war?” an OUN-B affiliated publication asked five years later. “Of course not,” it answered, with the caveat that “a third world war will come, because it is inevitable.”
Andriy Levus was always the first among equals of the Capitulation Resistance Movement’s coordinators. He made it official by February 2022 when Levus announced his leadership of the Free Ukraine Resistance Movement. For years, Andriy Levus has been an assistant to far-right politician Andriy Parubiy and coordinated an important OUN-B “facade structure” called Free People, of which there have been several iterations. From the start, Free People has served as a “second organization” for members of a militant Banderite youth group. All of these entities, including the “Bandera Organization” itself, are headquartered at the OUN-B’s Yaroslava building in Kyiv. So was the Capitulation Resistance Movement. This first installment will explain how “Free People” became its vanguard.
In 1993, the OUN-B, having recently returned to Ukraine after many years abroad, established the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN), a far-right political party, as the foundation of its above board apparatus in the homeland. The network began to unravel by the end of the nineties after failures at the ballot box, and the paramilitary wing of the organization (Tryzub) went rogue. The KUN effectively replaced Tryzub with a youth wing, which the OUN-B later separated from its unpopular party to create the Youth Nationalist Congress (Molodizhnyy Natsionalistychnyy Konhres, MNK) in early 2001. The far-right MNK has resisted turning “Free People” into a political party, probably so that it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the KUN, which is practically irrelevant, and apparently autonomous but led by an OUN-B member.
Andriy Levus joined the “Bandera Youth” in his early-to-mid twenties. It’s where he met his wife. The first leader of the MNK is the editor of the OUN-B newspaper. The second MNK chairman was the deputy head of OUN-B by 2013 and a deputy commander of the “Maidan Self-Defense” in early 2014. The third MNK leader quickly became an “assistant-consultant” to far-right politician Andriy Parubiy, who formerly led the paramilitary arm of the neo-Nazi “Social National Party of Ukraine.” The third MNK leader manages the OUN-B’s publishing house. By 2009, when Andriy Levus turned thirty years old, the OUN-B made him the director of its Ukrainian Information Service in Kyiv, and he also started working for Parubiy. It appears that Levus hasn’t left his side.
Movement for the Resistance to Capitulation (ROK), which he now leads, is a new reincarnation of Free People network, which in turn stems from Ukraine’s Youth Nationalist Congress, the youth branch of OUN(B) – the Banderovites who survived Cold War in North America.
— Leonid ХВ Ragozin (@leonidragozin) December 2, 2021
Ten years later, Volodymyr Zelensky’s overwhelming electoral victories spelled the end of Andriy Parubiy’s chairmanship of the Verkhovna Rada, or Ukrainian parliament. Levus continued working with Parubiy, a leader of Poroshenko’s “European Solidarity” party, after organizing the “Resistance Movement.” After all, Parubiy and Levus largely directed the muscle behind the “Maidan revolution” in early 2014. Five years later, an OUN-B organizer of the Capitulation Resistance Movement told The Daily Beast, reacting to Zelensky’s landslide election victory, “We are going to raise a new Maidan revolution if he makes a single step away from our course.”
FREE PEOPLE 1.0 — ‘EURO OFFENSIVE’
The first iteration of the “Free People network” was established in April 2013 as the OUN-B’s contribution to the Euronastup (“Euro Offensive”) campaign led by Serhii Bondarchuk, a minor politician. A Free People blog initially functioned as the Euronastup website. That summer, Bondarchuk organized a “national round table” (with Levus as its “executive secretary”) to push the Ukrainian government to sign a controversial Association Agreement with the European Union on November 29. In early November, about ten days after kicking off a “Euroreferendum” petition campaign, Bondarchuk predicted that the delivery of a million signatures on November 22 could represent the “beginning of Euromaidan.” In fact, the protest movement (which he apparently named) started the night before, after the pro-Russian government signaled its decision not to sign.
FREE PEOPLE 2.0 — ‘EUROMAIDAN’
On November 22, 2013, an obscure international coordinating body of Banderite “facade structures,” formerly known as the World Ukrainian Liberation Front, convened at the OUN-B headquarters in Kyiv, located a short walk from Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Today this organization is called the “World Council of Ukrainian Statehood Organizations,” but only in Ukrainian. In English, it is known as the International Council in Support of Ukraine (ICSU). “Free People” became a dues-paying member five years later.
At this November 2013 meeting of the ICSU, its headquarters was relocated, at least on paper, from New York to Toronto, as the presidency changed hands to Yuri Shymko, a former Canadian politician. The year before, the ICSU called for US-backed “regime change” in Kyiv, and implored “nationally conscious Ukrainian patriots” around the world to “demand that enemy agents of Moscow’s fifth column be deported from Ukraine.”
The OUN-B network in Canada attained unprecedented influence during the Conservative premiership of Stephen Harper (2006-15), but has apparently been under the thumb of a Banderite from the Detroit suburbs who replaced Shymko as ICSU president. Borys Potapenko of Warren, Michigan, a former executive director of the League of Ukrainian Canadians, is today a leader of the “Free Ukraine Resistance Movement” and is said to be ranked #3 in the global OUN-B hierarchy.
From the first day of the Euromaidan protests, before they adopted that name, Euronastup campaigners provided tea and food to demonstrators, and set up an “information center” on Independence Square that said, “For the European future.” At the end of the first week, Stefan Romaniw of Melbourne, Australia read fifty greetings to the Maidan from Ukrainian organizations in twenty different countries. Romaniw did so as the new secretary general of the Ukrainian World Congress, the longtime chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations, and the international OUN-B leader since 2009.
Two days later, riot police violently dispersed protesters and unleashed a massive escalation of the Euromaidan. The paramilitary Banderite organization Tryzub, led by Dmytro Yarosh, brokered the extremist Right Sector alliance, which included multiple neo-Nazi groups. The three main opposition parties, including the neo-fascist Svoboda party (with one or two OUN-B members in its leadership) established the “National Resistance Headquarters.” Andriy Parubiy also set up the Maidan Self-Defense (MSD) under his command, with Andriy Levus as his deputy.
Levus was initially put in charge of the “commandant’s office” and the “mobilization service.” The yellow Euronastup tents, next to the stage on the Maidan, became part of the “mobilization center” for the MSD. Levus explained in a December 2013 interview, “To the left of the stage is the so-called Military Commissariat. People come there, we collect them, and then distribute them by the hundreds. Over time, we check them.” The Youth Nationalist Congress formed the 14th and 15th companies, or “hundreds.” Levus took charge of them both, but it was the fourteenth that was named “Free People” (Vilny Liudy) and adopted an anarchistic V symbol.
The so-called “Free People movement” might have played a small role in the protests aside from Andriy Levus, who became the deputy head of the MSD by February 2014. In the aftermath of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Russia and ceding victory to the “revolution” later that month, Levus told the New York Times that in the final days, he was ready for a bloody showdown with the government, because “he had reinforcements on the way.”
Protesters in Lviv had overrun an Interior Ministry garrison and were en route to Kiev with the captured military weapons. “I’m reluctant to talk about this because we are protesters and not illegal armed groups,” Mr. Levus said. “But the square was about to look different. There would be more people, and they would not have had empty hands.”
On February 20, 2014 in Kyiv, dozens of protesters were killed in a mysterious “sniper’s massacre” that started around 9am. About forty-five victims were fatally shot by the time Andriy Levus reportedly started to negotiate a ceasefire with a government official. “I told him,” Levus told the New York Times, “We will guarantee the safety of the police if they leave the city.” As the Ukrainian Canadian scholar Ivan Katchanovski introduced his groundbreaking essay on the “Maidan massacre,”
The massacre of almost 50 Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. This mass killing of the protesters and the mass shooting of the police that preceded it led to the overthrow of the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych and gave a start to a civil war in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine, Russian military intervention in Crimea and Donbas, and an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. A conclusion promoted by the post-Yanukovych governments and the media in Ukraine that the massacre was perpetrated by government snipers and special police units on a Yanukovych order has been nearly universally accepted by the Western governments, the media, and many scholars… This paper is the first academic study of this crucial case of the mass killing… This academic investigation concludes that the massacre was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power. It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings. The paper presents implications of these findings for understanding the nature of the change of the government in Ukraine, the civil war in Donbas, Russian military intervention in Crimea and Donbas, and an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
A lot changed by March 2014. Andriy Parubiy became the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, with MNK leader Serhii Kuzan as one of his advisors. Andriy Levus became the deputy chief of the Security Service of Ukraine. According to Zaborona, Levus was “associated for many years with the former head of the SBU Valentin Nalyvaichenko,” who in turn was close to Dmytro Yarosh and Tryzub. The OUN-B ideologist of the Svoboda party meanwhile became the first deputy prime minister.
Serhiy Kvit, an OUN-B member, former captain in Tryzub, and future leader of the ROK Strategic Council, was appointed Education Minister. He hired “The Banderite from Azerbaijan” and his friend, Mr. Daily Beast quote, as advisors. Volodymyr Viatrovych, former director of the OUN-B’s Center for Research of the Liberation Movement (TsDVR) in Lviv, was crowned the “memory czar” of the “new Ukraine.” Led by Viatrovych, who reportedly “commanded one of the battalions on the Maidan,” Banderites from the TsDVR largely took over the government’s Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.
Later in 2014, former MSD commander Andriy Parubiy became the first deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, in which he formed a small inter-factional union, “Maidan Self-Defense,” that included newly elected parliamentarians such as Andriy Levus, Oleh Medunytsia, and two future members of the ROK Coordination Council, one of whom joined Free People. Levus apparently succeeded Medunytsia, the former MNK leader (2002-2006) as deputy OUN-B head in 2018, the year that Free People joined the Toronto-based “International Council in Support of Ukraine.” The ICSU had already arranged several trips to the US and Canada for Parubiy, who led the 1990s neo-Nazi paramilitary organization, Patriot of Ukraine, that ultimately birthed the Azov movement. After the Maidan, the Banderites became “state-builders.”
FREE PEOPLE 3.0 — VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION
Many nationalists from the Maidan joined volunteer battalions in 2014 to fight in eastern Ukraine. Members of the “Free People movement” are said to have joined numerous paramilitary groups including Aidar, Azov, and Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. Apparently veterans of the 14th “hundred” of MSD spearheaded a company of the “Special Tasks Patrol Police” in Chernihiv. According to Zaborona, as deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine for roughly half of 2014, Andriy Levus was “responsible for work with the volunteer battalions that were being created at that time. According to his own Facebook posts, Levus also led the Donbas guerrillas who carried out acts of sabotage against the Russian military and local separatists, including bombings.”
The “Free People network” became a “volunteer movement” to support the army and various militias. “There is no single leader among the FP,” the Ukrainian Week reported in 2016, not long before Andriy Levus became that person. “Instead it is run by a group of coordinators…” (mostly members of the MNK, or Youth Nationalist Congress). As somebody from the MNK told a German journalist in 2015, “We set up a second organization called Vilny Liudy[Free People] and we support the troops. We provide clothing and equipment for both the regular troops and the volunteer battalions. Nobody is adequately supplied… We carry out fundraising trips to Canada, where there are many Ukrainians in exile who support our struggle.”
Serhii Kuzan, who led the MNK during the Euromaidan, was a key coordinator of Free People in 2015-18 and made several trips to North America in that period. Kuzan and other MNK representatives of Free People grew close to certain OUN-B members in the United States and Canada. After interviewing Kuzan, the NATO Association of Canada described him as “one of the main coordinators” of the Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund (FUDFF), which was established by the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the self-described Banderite vanguard of the diaspora. The FUDFF “enjoys the patronage of the International Council in Support of Ukraine,” according to the OUN-B newspaper in Canada, which is funded by the Canadian government.
“I greatly admire the work you’re all doing as part of the International Council in Support of Ukraine, and all the organizations that it embraces,” the former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper concluded his speech at a Banderite gala in Toronto attended by the leader of the “Resistance Movement” in early 2020. The event raised money for the FUDFF, and perhaps in turn, Free People, which joined the ICSU about a year before launching the Capitulation Resistance Movement.
A year before the gala, and several weeks ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election, Serhii Kuzan and his team of MNK members announced their departure from Free People. Months after the gala, Kuzan sent a message to a convention of disillusioned Banderites in New York: “today the Bandera movement needs to rethink its purpose, to get rid of all the imposed prejudices and stereotypes about messiahs and the next saviors of Ukraine… [and] now it’s time to change the ideology from defeating the enemy to statemaking.” Without mentioning the “Resistance Movement,” Kuzan warned that Russia could “provoke a real confrontation” under the cover of “a counter-revolution or fake New Maidan.”
FREE PEOPLE 4.0 — PROTO-PARTY
The war in eastern Ukraine became a “frozen conflict” in 2015. Free People renewed its activity in early 2016, a year after the second peace summit in Minsk. Dmytro Yarosh, after leaving Right Sector, meanwhile launched his new organization, and met with Andriy Levus. The following month, Levus formed a small inter-factional parliamentary association, Nastup (“Offensive”), that included Dmytro Yarosh, deputy OUN-B leader Oleh Medunytsia, and Serhii Vysotsky, one of the new (non-MNK) coordinators of Free People. According to Zaborona, Free People “organized actions all year against political organizations and the media, one way or another connected with Russia.” That summer, Ukrainian Week highlighted Free People as “one of the most anticipated new political platforms.”
Its initiator is Andriy Levus, MP with [Prime Minister] Arseniy Yatseniuk’s Popular Front and an active member of Maidan’s Self-Defense, as well as his team. The project is being seriously looked at by Popular Front as an alternate vehicle if PF bottoms out in the ratings. So far, this group has not directly announced that it is establishing a party, although its membership already includes quite a few seated deputies from different levels of government and government officials. Given its aims and the scale of activities that have been launched, the transformation of Free People into a party will probably happen very shortly…
Hundreds of members of FP also joined the volunteer battalions at the front, while in the rear guard, an eponymous volunteer network was rolled out to supply them. Free People’s social base is activists from patriotic and nationalist organizations. 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. At this point, the network’s activists are focused on fighting Russia’s business in Ukraine, punishing representatives of the previous criminal regime, and de-occupying the country. They are also working to counter Viktor Medvedchuk’s separatist 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: a National Action Committee has been formed, along with a coordination center that includes, in addition to Free People, representatives of Dmytro Yarosh’s movement Diya (Action), the Officers’ Union of Ukraine, and parliamentary group called Nastup (The Offensive), and a large number of well-known community and political activists. The next step, according to the initiators of this project, will be to set up a national civil and political movement.
The secret to Free People’s supposedly horizontal structure was its domination by OUN-B members. In December 2016, the MNK-affiliated organization inaugurated Andriy Levus as its chairman, Serhii Kuzan as his first deputy, and Serhii Vysotsky as the second deputy head. Free People then sent a delegation to the United States. Kuzan participated in an OUN-B ideological winter camp that is hosted by the Ukrainian American Youth Association every December 26-30 in Ellenville, New York. He was accompanied by Solomiya Farion, the leader of the MNK and co-author of its Banderite-themed “Vertep,” or antisemitic Christmas play. Kuzan and Farion lectured and led discussions in a crash MNK seminar for Ukrainian American youth, called the Free People Course in Ukraine.
Andriy Levus made at least four trips to the United States in 2017, including that summer to speak at the annual Ukrainian Days festival in Chicago, sponsored by the Illinois Division of the Banderite-led Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA). In October, he visited Washington, DC to participate in the annual Ukrainian Days lobbying event on Capitol Hill, organized by the UCCA’s Washington bureau with support from the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank. At the end of the year, Levus returned to New York.
Shortly after a delegation of important OUN-B members including Andriy Levus, Serhii Kuzan, the OUN-B newspaper editor, and former Education Minister of Ukraine (2014-16) participated in the December 2017 ideological camp at Ellenville, Free People launched a “national initiative” in Ukraine called “Stop Revanche.” In January 2018, the OUN-B organized a march in Kyiv and set up a coordinating center with representatives of the MNK, Free People, and other organizations including the far-right UNA-UNSO, neo-Banderite “National Alliance,” and the neo-Nazi “C14.” In short, this coalition demanded total victory in eastern Ukraine, and to purge “Russian influence” from society. It also laid the groundwork for Free People to spearhead an anti-Zelensky “Resistance Movement.”
In 2018, Free People grew closer to Ukrainian extremists, the OUN-B diaspora network, Canadian politicians, and right-wing think tanks in Washington. The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, chaired by OUN-B leader Stefan Romaniw, coordinated Australian support for the Stop Revanche campaign. In September, as the League of Ukrainian Canadians promoted Free People at a Ukrainian festival in Montreal, the Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America held a “Stop Revanche” event in Chicago.
Days after meeting in Washington with representatives of the Heritage Foundation, RAND, the American Foreign Policy Council, and the State Department, in October, Andriy Levus celebrated the fake 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army with Banderites in Canada. Meanwhile, Serhii Kuzan and his right-hand man from MNK presented “Stop Revanche” to Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the Liberal chairman of the Canadian-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Group, and to politicians from the Conservative Party of Canada, including its next leader, Erin O’Toole.
Joined @jamesbezan & @TedOpitz for a dinner meeting with visiting Ukrainian Youth Leaders to discuss Russian hybrid warfare in #Ukraine and efforts to combat it. Thank you to leaders from @LeagueUkrCdns for organizing. 🇨🇦 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/d4mPtQ2hZA
— Erin O'Toole (@erinotoole) October 21, 2018
These “Ukrainian Youth Leaders” from MNK were accompanied to their dinner meeting with Conservative politicians by OUN-B members representing the League of Ukrainian Canadians, including Borys Potapenko from Michigan. During this trip to Canada, “Free People” officially joined Potapenko’s International Council in Support of Ukraine. According to Potapenko, it was only a matter of time.
A month later in Kyiv, as told by an MNK member, “we created a Network for Combating Russian Aggression, for joint, consolidated work to prevent revanche of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. To fight the cause — Russian influence, not their consequences.” On the eve of winter, Melinda Haring, the editor of the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert blog wondered, “Ukraine’s Maidan Opposition Is Finally Getting Organized, but Will it Make Any Difference?”
A second group worth watching is made up of Hanna Hopko, chairwoman of the Rada Foreign Affairs Committee; Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, vice prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine; Sergiy Kvit, former education minister; and some new deputies from the People’s Front political party including Andriy Levus and Serhiy Vysotsky. Since its leaders have held positions of power and know how to negotiate and lead teams, there’s every reason to watch them.
All five leaders of the “second group worth watching” attended the Banderite-dominated launch of the “Network for Combating Russian Aggression.” At least two are OUN-B members who have been to the “winter ideological camp” in Ellenville, New York, and the other three are reliable allies of what I call the “Bandera Lobby.” In February 2019, by which time Volodymyr Zelensky announced his candidacy for president, this Banderite-infiltrated group launched the “Euro-Atlantic Agenda for Ukraine,” which later settled on the name Odnodumci (“like-minded people”). The Atlantic Council blog weighed in again: “New Political Platform in Ukraine Deserves Second Look.”
For now, the platform will mostly focus on a domestic audience. Its members will visit Ukraine’s regions to promote its ideas. They will also coordinate their activities on the international arena, but no specific activities have been planned so far. In an interview in Washington, DC, Vysotskyi said that the new platform won’t endorse a presidential candidate but will focus on supporting the country’s path toward NATO and EU membership. Depending on the outcome of the presidential election, the Euro-Atlantic Agenda for Ukraine may register as a political party and contest the fall 2019 parliamentary elections.
In early 2019, Free People married the Odnodumci platform and its “moderate” backers with the Stop Revanche “national initiative” and its far-right street muscle to create the “Protect Ukraine” campaign, which served as the forerunner to the Capitulation Resistance Movement. “Free People” did this as the newest member of the International Council in Support of Ukraine, chaired by Borys Potapenko, who formerly worked under the top OUN-B officer in the midwestern United States. Bohdan Fedorak of Warren, Michigan, who formerly chaired the “World Ukrainian Liberation Front,” died last year as the honorary spokesperson of a government-in-exile originating in the Banderites’ pro-Nazi “restoration of Ukrainian statehood” on June 30, 1941 in German-occupied western Ukraine.
Free People could be the “likeminded” Parubiy will campaign with for next parliament, whom he mentioned yesterday when demurring from joining Poro’s rebranded European Solidarity at the party’s first convention. Levus and Vysotskiy told me about this a year ago; not implausible https://t.co/t5d4lJbDDT
— Jonathan Brunson (@jonathbruns) June 1, 2019
FREE PEOPLE 5.0 — DISCREET VANGUARDISTS
Volodymyr Zelensky received 30% of the votes in the first round of the last Ukrainian presidential election, almost twice as much as the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko. That was March 31, 2019. OUN-B subsequently organized the “Protect Ukraine” campaign to encourage “patriotic” citizens to unite behind Poroshenko before the second round on April 21. Instead, almost 75% of voters cast their ballots for Zelensky. An OUN-B member representing “Protect Ukraine” told the Daily Beast that day, “We are going to raise a new Maidan revolution if he [Zelensky] makes a single step away from our course… He is weak, he does not have a religion, he does not have a nationality.”
On April 5, the Ternopil branch of Free People announced the Protect Ukraine campaign. The star of the press conference was Ivan Kovalyk, an MNK member who led the Maidan Self-Defense in Ternopil. “We have to save the state,” he said. Also participating were two MNK members and someone who is affiliated with Right Sector. On April 11, Andriy Levus chaired the national launch of “Protect Ukraine” in Kyiv. To his right sat Yuriy Shukhevych, the far-right elderly son of an infamous 1940s OUN-B military leader, Nazi collaborator, and ethnic cleanser; Bohdan Chervak, the head of the “Melnykite” faction of OUN; Stefan Romaniw, the leader of OUN-B; Stepan Bratsiun, the chairman of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists; and Walter Zaryckyj, the US leader of OUN-B.
Numerous far-right leaders signed onto “Protect Ukraine,” including Dmytro Yarosh, the founder of Right Sector, and its current leader, Andriy Tarasenko, and leaders from the militant UNA-UNSO, which was originally part of Right Sector. Andriy Parubiy, knowing his days were numbered as the chairman of Ukrainian parliament, enthusiastically promoted the campaign to “Protect Ukraine” from a Zelensky presidency. They called for a patriotic march in Kyiv on April 19, the day of the debate between Poroshenko and Zelensky. Free People, MNK, and UNA-UNSO flags were especially prominent during the march, which culminated in a rally that Poroshenko addressed before the debate.
Odnodumci, of course, endorsed Poroshenko, and after Zelensky crushed him in the second round, the group denounced the head of the new presidential administration for raising the idea of a nationwide referendum to finalize any potential peace deal with Russia. Reacting to the election of Ukraine’s first Jewish president, the Banderite “memory czar” tweeted a famous image of a German crowd making Nazi salutes except for one individual, which he captioned, “the majority isn’t a proof of righteousness.” Dmytro Yarosh soon warned that Zelensky could be killed, a threat amplified by the “Protect Ukraine” Facebook page.
Less than a month after the election, Andriy Levus spoke at an “Oversight of the Security and Defense Sector” seminar organized by the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (GCM ECSS), and hosted by the NATO Professional Development Program in Kyiv. The GCM ECSS is run by the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Ministry of Defense. A few years back, Levus participated in the GCM ECSS’ third annual Ukrainian Senior Leaders Seminar. So did Serhiy Vysotsky, a member of Free People, and Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, who co-founded Odnodumci.
Quick observation re Trump pick for Ukraine ambassador Keith W. Dayton: Many 🇺🇦 politicos went through seminars held since 2014 by Dayton’s @Marshall_Center, incl. current vehement CRITICS of Zelenskiy ex-veterans minister/now MP Friz, MP Ariev, ex-MP Levus, Teteruk, Syroid, etc. pic.twitter.com/7hAHCe1YwW
— Oleksiy Kuzmenko (@kooleksiy) May 2, 2020
In May 2019, the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, which is funded by NATO and numerous western governments, published a dramatic list of demands in a “Joint statement by civil society representatives on the first political steps of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.” The key part of the text, in bold, said, “As civil society activists, we present a list of ‘red lines not to be crossed’. Should the President cross these red lines, such actions will inevitably lead to political instability in our country and the deterioration of international relations…” The Capitulation Resistance Movement later manifested as the muscle of the nationalistic, western-funded segment of Ukrainian civil society to back up such threats. Early on, Andriy Levus described the ROK as “a platform that broadly encompasses the civil society sector. We’re working to ensure normal interaction between the party based and the public protest segment.” In September, a Ukrainian internet TV station (Espresso) launched a new show, “Red Lines,” hosted by Serhiy Vysotsky of Free People.
BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher reacted to the list of demands in May, “I feel like these groups may have crossed ‘the red line’ of what civil society groups can legitimately demand of a freshly elected government… It reads like a manifesto – there’s an election in 2 months. Make a party – see if anyone agrees with you – that’s democracy.” Matthew Schaaf, the project director of the US-funded Freedom House in Ukraine, tweeted, “These groups represent a portion of civil society, but the list of signatories is far from representative & mostly predictable.” Ukraine correspondent Christopher Miller responded, “these groups rep only part of civil society. Specifically, looking at signatories, many represent the pro-Porosehnko ‘25%’ (though really only 24%) camp and are not ‘politically neutral’ as the letter states.” Oleksiy Kuzemnko, a journalist and expert on the Ukrainian far-right, added, “Poroshenko’s loyalists are mistaking their own growing indignation with Zelenskiy’s policies with that of a larger portion of society…”
In June, half a dozen co-founders of Odnodumci, including Andriy Levus and Hanna Hopko, dressed in all white, presented their “socio-political platform” to the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Also that month, Levus and Hopko visited Washington as part of a final delegation before the parliamentary elections to the US from the Verkhovna Rada’s committee on foreign affairs. They both spoke at a conference in Washington organized by the US leader of OUN-B (who attended the private launch of “Protect Ukraine”). So did OUN-B leader Stefan Romaniw, who took a selfie with Levus at the conference, and then again at Bandera’s grave a few months later.
Despite mounting opposition from “civil society,” and not having a political platform, Zelensky’s new “Servant of the People” party dominated that summer’s parliamentary elections. Poroshenko chose Andriy Parubiy to lead his “European Solidarity” party list, which included “memory czar” Volodymyr Viatrovych (#25) and Andriy Levus (#27). Poroshenko’s party performed so badly that Levus didn’t make it, but several friends of the budding “Resistance Movement” did, including Viatrovych, Parubiy, and Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (#10). For the US-funded RFE/RL, Christopher Miller reported, “Revanche has emerged as one of the buzzwords of this extraordinary election. Those posting, protesting, and pronouncing the word come from nationalist and right-wing political camps fighting tooth-and-nail to win seats in parliament, and also from some pro-Western activists who say they are concerned about the country’s future.”
After the parliamentary elections, the Office of the President announced that there would be a “March of Dignity” instead of a military parade on Independence Day, or August 24. By that point, Pavlo Bilous, the deputy head of Free People for organizational work since February, had already begun planning a “freedom march” for that day. Bilous and “Protect Ukraine” subsequently took the initiative to announce an unofficial military parade, the “March of Ukraine’s Defenders.” Zelensky wasn’t fit to lead such an event, anyway, they said.
Over 26,000 people responded to the Facebook event that Bilous created, and more than 3,500 joined his accompanying Facebook group. However, the far-right-led “Veterans’ Movement of Ukraine” took charge of organizing this event. A similar dynamic played out over the next 2.5 years, as the far-right repeatedly led protests organized by the ostensibly “civil” Capitulation Resistance Movement. “If we don’t come to a ‘No to Capitulation!’ event it will miss 50% of its manpower,” the neo-Nazi leader of the Azov movement once boasted.
“Protect Ukraine” re-launched as the “Capitulation Resistance Movement” in early October, after the Ukrainian government signed onto the “Steinmeier formula,” or what Christopher Miller described as “a slimmer, simplified version of the Minsk agreements.” In mid-September, “Protect Ukraine” published a rather Orwellian open statement to President Zelensky, entitled “We will not allow surrender!”
Agreeing with this or any similar formula will mean the capitulation of Ukraine to the Kremlin. Peace with Russia cannot be reached at any cost. Such a peace would lead to an even larger war, more casualties and humiliation of Ukrainians, and would destroy the independent statehood of Ukraine.
Aside from Levus declaring himself the deputy head of OUN-B, and the ROK periodically listing the OUN-B headquarters building as its address on Facebook, there were plenty of signs from the beginning that the “Bandera Organization” puppeteered the Capitulation Resistance Movement.
At least half of the ROK’s “Coordination Council” consisted of members of the MNK and/or Free People. A similar portion of the pages on the ROK’s original website were dedicated to OUN-B affiliated organizations such as MNK, Free People, and the “Way to Victory” newspaper. The “donate” page asked supporters to transfer money to the Free People Foundation. In February 2022, the newly renamed “Free Ukraine Resistance Movement” directed donations to the MNK. In 2020, the ROK started encouraging people to follow Free People’s Telegram account “for coordination during protest actions.” There were also other OUN-B “facade structures” in the ROK’s orbit, namely “Patriot Defense,” the Ukrainian Strategic Initiative, and OPAD Centre of Foreign Policy Studies, all of them run out of the OUN-B headquarters building.
Patriot Defense was started by the Manhattan branch of the OUN-B’s Organization for Defense of Four Freedoms of Ukraine (ODFFU) and run by Ulana and Marko Suprun, both OUN-B members from the Ukrainian diaspora that have associated with neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Patriot Defense temporarily became part of the Banderite-led Ukrainian World Congress after the latter made Ulana Suprun its director of humanitarian initiatives. Her Canadian husband, a former board member of ODFFU, took over after Suprun became the acting Minister of Healthcare in Ukraine.
Following her dismissal from Zelensky’s government, Ulana Suprun signed on to the Capitulation Resistance Movement. Her husband has been the principal English language host of Stop Fake, a propagandistic “counter-disinformation” outlet. From at least 2014-17, the Supruns lived in a Kyiv apartment owned by the treasurer of the Ukrainian American Freedom Foundation, the financial arm of OUN-B in the US that owns 40% of the Banderite headquarters building in Kyiv and this year has raised over $1 million for the “Free Ukraine Resistance Movement.”
In 2018, Free People established the Ukrainian Strategic Initiative (USI), essentially as its think tank. There will be more about this OUN-B front in future installments of this series. Free People and OUN-B members constituted a majority of its board of directors, including Levus, Medunytsia, Vysotsky, Potapenko and Kuzan (until he seemingly parted ways with the Bandera Organization). The Odessa branch of Free People, at least on Facebook, became “USI.Kiev.” As for OPAD, that is another small “think tank,” run by Serhiy Parkhomenko, a far-right OUN-B member of the ROK Coordination Council who commented to the Daily Beast about overthrowing Zelensky. (More about him in “The Banderite from Azerbaijan.”)
Two weeks after launching the Capitulation Resistance Movement, OUN-B members from around the world made a pilgrimage to Stepan Bandera’s grave in Munich for the 60th anniversary of his assassination by the KGB. Members of the Youth Nationalist Congress, one of them with a Nazi tattoo on his elbow, led the delegation from Ukraine, which included the former education minister.
Delegations also arrived from the US, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. OUN-B leader Stefan Romaniw of Melbourne, Australia took photos with Andriy Levus and numerous MNK members at the gravesite. The Bandera Organization decided to go all in on the “Resistance Movement,” plausibly with the goal of seizing power. Although it has mostly disappeared from public view since Russia’s invasion, the “Resistance” will probably return with a vengeance if the Ukrainian government tries to negotiate an end to the war.
FREE PEOPLE 6.0 — HARPOON 2.0?
On the second day of Russia’s invasion, the Capitulation Resistance Movement published an order from OUN-B by Andriy Levus, who announced that he is the deputy head of the Bandera Organization and the leader of the “Free Ukraine Resistance Movement.” By early March, the FURM began to organize the Free Ukraine battalion in Kyiv. “We have become guards of the armed fortress,” announced Free People, a member of which became the deputy commander of the FURM battalion. Levus tapped his former commander in the defunct Harpoon battalion to lead the unit.
Andriy Levus was evidently talking about “Harpoon” when he reportedly claimed to have “led the Donbas guerrillas who carried out acts of sabotage against the Russian military and local separatists, including bombings.” Pavlo Bilous served in the Harpoon battalion as a medic years before becoming an organizer for Free People, co-coordinator of the ROK, and initiator of the 2019 “March of Ukraine’s Defenders.” Levus described the special battalion as a “partisan formation” that worked with the Ukrainian intelligence service to (among other things) develop a “partisan movement” in eastern Ukraine.
Members of the Maidan Self-Defense, the Youth Nationalist Congress (MNK), and the C14 “hate group” joined the Harpoon battalion, which might be an important part of the story of the Banderite MNK and neo-Nazi C14 growing closer in years to come. Levus took part in the formation of the Harpoon battalion, and perhaps so did C14’s prolific organizer Andriy Medvedko, who joined in any case. Medvedko is highlighted on “Reporting Radicalism,” a website supported by the US-funded Freedom House to address the extremist far-right in Ukraine, “an increasingly radical and violent subset of society.” He’s been accused of killing Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina, but Free People has declared him innocent. In 2019, a month before joining the Public Control Council of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, Medvedko co-organized the “March of Ukraine’s Defenders.”
In summer 2015, several months after Buzina’s murder, the Ministry of Internal Affairs folded four battalions, including Harpoon and the notoriously criminalTornado unit, into a “Special Operations Regiment.” They named it Myrotvorets(“Peacemaker”), after one of the police battalions formerly led by Andriy Teteruk, who has worked closely with the “Resistance Movement.” He once struck a woman parliamentarian in the head with a glass bottle before completing the aforementioned “Ukrainian Senior Leaders Seminar” alongside Levus and others. According to the Ukraine-funded UATV, this regiment was created to “administer the law in towns liberated from occupants…”
In spring 2022, recruits to the Free Ukraine battalion heard speeches from Andriy Levus, Pavlo Bilous, and its commander (all Harpoon veterans) in addition to Borys Potapenko, the US chairman of the International Council in Support of Ukraine and a member of the FURM leadership. Potapenko, who made “over two dozen” trips to the Donbas war zone in 2014-21, wore a Harpoon battalion t-shirt to the 2019 “March of Ukraine’s Defenders.”
Earlier this year Potapenko spent five weeks embedded with the Free Ukraine battalion as “a special representative of the Bandera Organization,” followed by a quick Banderite speaking tour in the US and Canada. By then, OUN-B fronts like the Ukrainian American Freedom Foundation in New York and the Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund in Toronto started collecting donations for the FURM. More recently, Potapenko met veterans of the Azov Regiment at a fundraiser event for the Azov movement in a suburb of Detroit. In May, a Retired Chicago Police Association newsletter suggested that Potapenko has coordinated a nationwide effort “to collect Bullet Proof Vests from Law Enforcement Officers across the country to be sent to Ukraine.”
The Free Ukraine Resistance Movement might be less about “Harpoon 2.0,” blowing up arms depots and and killing “collaborators,” as some have suggested, than a revival of Free People’s “volunteer network,” to supportpartisan activity and get some of the credit. I suspect that the “Resistance Movement” is waiting for Zelensky to “capitulate” before coming back out of the shadows and launching its next phase. The Facebook page is still called the Capitulation Resistance Movement and has made clear the ROK/FURM position that agreeing to negotiate with Russia would mean surrender, treason, collaborating with the enemy, and consenting to genocide. The next installment of this series will dive into the public relations department.
Stay tuned for Part 2: “Marketing the Resistance Movement.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.