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Russian propagandists and fellow travellers are out to destroy objective history altogether

May 11, 2024 | Editorials, Featured

Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) decision to retract Enemy Archives: Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations and the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement – Selections from the Secret Police Archives, from its Best Historical Materials List 2023 has ominous implications for objective historical research in general and truthful Ukrainian scholarship in particular.

The book, which is over 1,000 pages in length, contains documents collected by Soviet authorities in their campaign to quash the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. It was co-edited by Volodymyr Viatrovych and Lubomyr Luciuk. The documents were translated into English by Marta Olynyk.

“Contained within its pages are unparalleled insights into the Ukrainian nationalist movement spanning the Second World War era to 1955, meticulously sourced from primary documents and declassified archival records. By presenting this material, the book facilitates an impartial and objective examination of historical events, countering distortions propagated by Soviet and Russian propaganda,” stated the Ukrainian Library Country Charitable Foundation in an April 18th appeal to the ALA.

The ALA issued its award back in January, but rescinded it early in April. In a statement posted on its website, the ALA also apologized “for the harm caused by the work’s initial inclusion on the list” without specifying what the “harm” was.

Neither Luciuk nor Viatrovych were informed of this decision nor given a chance to reply to whatever complaints were laid. Luciuk only learned of this when Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese contacted him for a comment and his requests for an explanation went unanswered. This newspaper sent a media inquiry to ALA as well as an e-mail directly to Shawnda Hines, Deputy Director of Communications, but likewise received no response.

The clue to this puzzle may lie in Pugliese’s unfounded assertion the book was pulled “over concerns it whitewashes Nazi collaborators and war criminals”. But this is a collection of documents that went through a rigorous academic peer review before publication. How can original, archival documents, the authenticity of which has been established by independent, respected scholars “whitewash Nazi collaborators”? Are the anonymous critics alleging that the archival documents are “fabrications?” If so, who are these masked critics making these unfounded accusations in the dark and where is their evidence?

But no one has questioned the authenticity of the documents. In fact, we doubt that any of the book’s nameless critics have even read the book. We suspect all this opposition originates from Luciuk’s introduction to the book, an excerpt from which was published in the National Post on February 9, 2023, in which he places Russia’s current genocidal war within the context of Ukraine’s historic struggle for independence.

What appears to have been the spark that led to ALA’s decision is an April 10, 2024 article published in The Nation — a leftwing “progressive” magazine with a long history of supporting Stalin, the Soviet Union, various other Communist dictatorships and now Putin and the Russian Federation. The article in question was authored by Lev Golinkin, an unabashed Ukrainophobe, who has previously written that (i) the Revolution of Dignity was a coup engineered and financed by the United States, (ii) Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, and (iii) “far-right” Ukrainian groups killed the Heavenly Hundred in a “false-flag operation” designed to overthrow President Viktor Yanukovych, among other outrageous allegations that parrot the propagandistic trash that passes for news on Russian TV every evening . He has also attacked the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian National Federation and this newspaper for pointing out that members of the Galicia Division were not Nazis nor have any charges of war crimes against the Division ever been proven before any tribunal, commission or court anywhere.

Golinkin’s bias had been criticized by Vladislav Davidzon in a July 11th, 2023 Open Letter published in the Jewish publication The Tablet.

“His unremitting search for followers of the Ukrainian interwar integralists is the politics of the post-Soviet Jews of the generation of my parents and grandparents. He is far too young to be consumed by these sorts of fantasies, but he is being rewarded by a bonkers progressive left that worships Soviet-era communists but sees Nazis under every bed. Yet his fears—which I have empathy for as a fellow Jew—are his own and should not be projected outward. So, I humbly beseech you Mr. Golinkin, as one Ukrainian Jew to another: Man up and face your fears. But do so without needlessly disgorging them on to other people in the midst of a war of existential survival.”

Unfortunately, the ALA’s decision is not an isolated case, but part of an ongoing campaign by Russian propagandists and their fellow travellers to supress any true history that exposes the falsehoods contained in the Russia narrative which is deliberately aimed at denying a Ukrainian identity altogether.

One of the principal targets of Putin’s pawns is the venerable Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies which has been recognized as a global leader in the field of Ukrainian Studies. People like University of Alberta Professor Karyn Ball, Per Anders Rudling of Lund University in Sweden, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and others have called upon the U of A to return more than $1-million in donations and endowments received from veterans of the Galicia Division. That would be a fatal blow to an academic institution that exposes Russian historical falsifications and thereby undermines the credentials and credibility of those who parrot them.

This suppression campaign has been accompanied by the character assassination of one of the Ukrainian community’s best known and most respected leaders, Dr. Peter Savaryn. He served as Chancellor of the University of Alberta from 1982 to 1986, was involved with the university’s Board of Governors and Senate, served as President of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, from 1983 to 1988, and served as President of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and Vice-President of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Savaryn was awarded an honorary degree in 1987 from the University of Alberta, and was also awarded Order of Canada the same year.

Savaryn never hid his past service with the Galicia Division because there was no reason to do so. The Canadian “Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes”, headed by the Honourable Justice Jules Deschênes, in October, 1986 concluded that: “Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission.” Three years later, the British Hetherington-Chalmers Report came to the same conclusion.

Since the “Hunka Affair” some critics have been spreading accusations originating in Moscow and among its loyalists in Canada that the Deschenes report was a “whitewash” while renewed and unsubstantiated charges of atrocities committed by the Galician Division have been circulating in the mainstream media. And unlike the 1980’s coverage of the Deschênes Commission which presented both sides of the story, this time the mainstream media has erected an Iron Curtain through which no input from Ukrainian academics, journalists and other experts is allowed to filter through. The inevitable and unacceptable consequence is that ordinary citizens are being denied access to relevant, material and, as yet, little known historical facts precisely because they are being ignored, intentionally mischaracterized or deliberately buried from public view by sworn enemies of Ukraine. This is something you might expect in a dictatorship like Russia, but not in a democratic country like Canada.

There is only one objective in this defamatory campaign and that is to vilify those Ukrainians and Ukrainian Canadians who want freedom and self-determination for their homeland. It is to support Moscow’s fraudulent claims that it is conducting its genocidal war to combat “Nazis”. It is to reduce support for Ukraine in its valiant struggle for survival so that Russia can succeed in its “Final Solution” for Ukraine.

To all those who launch unsubstantiated claims and allegations — of being or having been Nazi war criminals — against individuals whose only “crime” was to have fought in support of a free Ukraine against Soviet Communist tyranny, know this: you are unwitting accomplices of Putin’s ongoing genocide in Ukraine. Instead of seeking historical truth, to right past wrongs, to render justice where great injustice has been wrought and to set the record straight for all time, what we see is these accomplices aiding and abetting Russia’s never-ending quest to swallow Ukraine whole and eliminate all traces of its independent existence.


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