Lebed, Mykola

Lebed, Mykola [Lebed’], b 23 November 1909 in Strilychi Novi, Bibrka county, Galicia, d 19 July 1998 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Mykola Lebed.) Revolutionary and Ukrainian nationalist leader. In 1930–2 he organized the youth wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in Western Ukraine, and in 1932–4 he served as liaison between the OUN national executive in Galicia and the OUN leadership abroad. He was sentenced to death for helping to organize the 1934 assassination of Bronisław Pieracki, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In September 1939 he escaped from prison, after which he sided with Stepan Bandera in the power struggle within the OUN and became one of the top leaders of the OUN (Bandera faction). After Bandera and most members of Yaroslav Stetsko's Ukrainian State Administration were arrested by the Gestapo in 1941, Lebed (under the pseudonym Maksym Ruban) assumed control of the OUN underground struggle against the Nazis in Ukraine and played an important role in organizing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). In the summer of 1943 Lebed became the OUN chief of foreign affairs. He was a founder of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) and its general secretary for foreign affairs. In July 1944 he left Ukraine to establish contacts with the Allies, and in 1949 he settled in the United States, where he headed the Prolog Research Corporation (1952–73). He has written the documentary memoir UPA (1946; 2nd edn 1987) and numerous articles in the Ukrainian press. A study of Lebed’s life, work, and views, by O. Panchenko, appeared in 2001.

[This article was updated in 2007.]

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