Mykola Lebed was sentenced to death in Poland in 1934. He died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1998.
By various accounts, he was an assassin, a freedom fighter, a terrorist, a hero, a villain, a prisoner, a refugee, a Nazi collaborator, a Nazi target, a writer, and a war criminal. To the Central Intelligence Agency, which bankrolled his activities for close to half a century, he was known as “Uncle Louie.”
September 18, 2018
Lebed was one of the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
In 1934, along with several other OUN members, Lebed was sentenced to death for the murder of Polish official Bronisław Pieracki. The sentence was commuted in 1936 to lifetime imprisonment, and Lebed managed to escape prison during the the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
In 1940, The OUN split into two factions: the OUN-B for loyalists of Stepan Bandera, and the OUN-M for followers of Andrei Melnik. Lebed was a leader of the Bandera group.
After his escape from prison, Lebed trained at a Gestapo police school in Zakopane. Exactly how long he spent there is unknown. Lebed admitted to being at Zakopane for about five weeks, but other accounts place him there for several months.
“From Krakow, still on instructions from [an OUN Leadership Council] member, I went to another rest camp in Zakopane. Discovering on the spot that this “rest camp” was under the control of the German police, and that it was to be converted into a police school, I left it, freeing at the same time from camp control a group of people, using various pretexts,” Lebed declared in a 1952 questionnaire.
While Lebed described his actions at Zakopane as almost heroic, a fellow trainee recalled Lebed’s behaviour at Zakopane much differently. A 1986 Village Voice article relayed Mykyta Kosakivs’kyy’s account of Lebed enthusiastically kidnapping and torturing a man as part of his training.
After the end of World War II, Western intelligence agencies sought to acquire OUN members as informants and infiltrators. The OUN was avowedly anti-Communist, and it already had a network of trained guerilla fighters at the ready for an anticipated Soviet offensive.
The United Kingdom’s MI6, their analogue to the CIA, opted to work with the Bandera, who later died under mysterious circumstances, allegedly murdered by the KGB.
But, possibly murdered by western intelligence?
Since the CIA had opted to work with Lebed
The CIA chose to work with Lebed, then the Foreign Minister of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR). Lebed still had considerable influence among Ukrainian nationalists. Bandera was too extreme and his following, the CIA concluded, was dwindling.
The early CIA accounts of Lebed reveal the agency believed he and his comrades were “determined and able men, but with the psychology of the hunted … resolved to carry on their work with or without us, and If necessary against us.”
The CIA knew early on of Lebed’s conviction for assassination, his training at Zakopane, and his one-time control over the OUN-B, but documents show the agency believed it to be lies peddled by Soviets or Melnik loyalists. Later, the CIA shielded Lebed from allegations and deportation because he was too valuable of an asset and any publicity could compromise the entire project
You can read the rest at the opening link