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Mykola Lebed

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Title: Mykola Lebed  
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Subject: List of people born in Ukraine, Stepan Bandera, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Roman Shukhevych, Bereza Kartuska prison, Bronisław Pieracki
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Mykola Lebed

Mykola Lebed
Born (1909-01-11)January 11, 1909
Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died July 18, 1998(1998-07-18) (aged 89)
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Nationality Ukrainian
Other names Maksym Ruban, Marko or Yevhen Skyrba
Occupation Politician

Mykola Lebed (Ukrainian: Микола Лебідь; January 11, 1909 - July 18, 1998), also known as Maksym Ruban, Marko or Yevhen Skyrba, was a Ukrainian political activist, Ukrainian nationalist and guerrilla fighter.[1] He was among those tried, convicted, and imprisoned for the murder of Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Pieracki, in 1936. The court sentenced him to death, but the state commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. He escaped when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939.[2] As leader of OUN-B he is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.[3][4]

In 1949 he emigrated to the United States and lived in New York. Through Prolog Research Corporation, his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded organization, he gathered intelligence on the Soviet Union as late as into the late 1960s. In 1991, the CIA still considered him a valuable asset. Federal investigators would consider Lebed a possible war criminal but did not pursue prosecution. He died in 1998.[5]

Early life

Born in Novi Strilyscha, a small town in Galicia, nowadays western part of Ukraine (at the time, Austria–Hungary), Lebed completed his studies in Lviv which during the Interbellum was part of the Second Polish Republic. In 1930-32 he took an active part in setting up youth groups of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in the area around Lviv. From 1932-34 he directed communications between the Ukrainian Executive and the Foreign Command of the OUN.

In 1934, he participated in the preparation of the assassination of the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs Bronisław Pieracki. After the assassination he attempted to flee through Gdansk-Szczecin to Germany, but by order of Himmler was arrested by the Gestapo and handed over to the Polish authorities.[6] During the Warsaw Process (1934–36) he was given the death penalty which was later commuted to life imprisonment. He escaped in September 1939 while being evacuated from the Bereza Kartuska prison due to the threatening Soviet invasion.

World War II

In 1940, during the internal conflict that erupted within the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) he supported Stepan Bandera, and, in 1941, became his assistant. In June 1941, he was one of the functionaries in the short-lived Ukrainian government

Lebed assumed control of Bandera's faction of the OUN in western Ukraine, which would come to dominate the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) until 1943.[7]

In 1942, he was a participant in the 3rd Special Conference of the OUN, and headed the head council and the delegate for external contacts of the Direction of the OUN. In 1944 he became one of the founders of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) and the general Secretary of International Policies of the UHVR. At the recommendation of the UHVR he traveled to the West where he contacted various Western governments. In 1948, he became a member of the OUN (Diaspora).

Alleged Collaboration with Nazi Germany

In a government reports publication, published by the National Archives[2], Lebed is being suspected of having collaborated with Nazi Germany.

Lebed was described as a "Ukrainian fascist leader and suspected Nazi collaborator",[8] and later labeled as a "well-known sadist and collaborator of the Germans" by United States Army counterintelligence.[1]

On the other hand it was also stated, that Lebed himself was persecuted by the Gestapo: "it (OUN/B) fought German rule, and the Gestapo put a price on Lebed’s head."[7]

Post-war activities

From 1949, Lebed lived in the United States. During 1952-1974, he headed the research center "Prologue" in New York; in 1982-85, he was Deputy Chairman and since 1974 he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the institution. In 1956-91 he was a member of the board of the Ukrainian Society of Foreign Studies in Munich and Toronto, publishing committee "Chronicle of the UPA (1975). Author memories "UPA" (1946, 1987).


Further reading

  • (In Russian) Chuyev, Sergei - Ukrainskyj Legion - Moscow, 2006
  • Ihor yeremeyev: The organizer of Ukrainian Special services

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