CNN features fascist-adjacent activist as expert on Russian disinfo

It gives a glimpse into how America’s Cold War weaponization of fascist movements continues to poison and affect politics — not just in Ukraine, but in America.

Moss Robeson — an independent researcher — published a short investigation of a Canadian Ukrainian political activist who recently appeared on CNN to give American viewers his “expert” opinion about Russian disinformation.

Turns out Marko Suprun has a very dark and ugly background. He pals around with neo-Nazis and is a big supporter of Nazi collaborationist movements. And yet here he is, presented by CNN as a “reliable source” for spy-fed conspiracy theories about Russia’s support for leftwing Americans (aka Bernie Sanders).

Not long after Moss published his piece on Medium, it was flagged and removed for violating community guidelines. In a generic message, Medium said Moss of doxed and harassed Marko Suprun — which is ridiculous. There is no doxing. Just public information. And Suprun is a public figure worthy of investigation. Journalism is not harassment. It’s pretty clear that the Ukrainian right had a hand in somehow flagging the post for removal. Isn’t crowdsourced, decentralized censorship great?

Anyway, Moss is a great researcher who gets into the weeds of the various shady and constantly shifting fascist Ukrainian emigre organizations. His work is important. It gives a glimpse into how America’s Cold War weaponization of nationalist and fascist Ukrainian immigrants movements continues to poison and affect politics — not just in Ukraine, but in America.

So I’m republishing his censored post below. Follow Moss’ work on Twitter.

—Yasha Levine

CNN, Bernie Sanders, and the “Ukrainian perspective on Russian interference”

By Moss Robeson / February 24, 2020

Yesterday, in the wake of recent, unsubstantiated reports that the Russian government is trying to support Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, CNN’s John Avlon had “StopFake” anchor and producer Marko Suprun on to give voice to the “Ukrainian perspective on Russian interference.”

What is StopFake? The outfit was launched in Ukraine in 2014 with backing from the United States and from European Union governments ostensibly to combat Russian disinformation. In reality, it was a propaganda project in its own right — employing far-right activists to smear journalists and pump out far-right and fascist friendly content. As explained last year by Alexey Kovalev, investigative editor at Meduza, a Russian-language independent online newspaper, “StopFake today is not a fact-checking or journalistic organization. It’s a propaganda arm of Ukraine’s government, and it should be treated as such.”

Marko Suprun — who dialed in to CNN from Ukraine — was there as an expert to comment on the role that Hill columnist John Solomon played in the Trump-Ukraine-Biden scandal. But Suprun clearly had the new Sanders-Russia meddling story in mind when he delivered his key line: “Russian disinformation is not about positioning left versus right but about using the left and the right against the center.”

What’s interesting about Marko Suprun is how deeply enmeshed he is in Ukraine’s fascist and nationalist diaspora.

Here’s a quick rundown:

If not himself a member, Suprun is a very public apologist for and supporter of Stepan Bandera and his faction of the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B).

Bandera was a Ukrainian fascist leader who hoped to become the Hitler of Ukraine. He and his outfit collaborated with the Nazis, fought to establish an “racially” pure Ukraine, ethnically cleansed Poles, and played a big role in the genocide of over a million Ukrainian Jews. During the Cold War, the OUN-B continued to operate as a “revolutionary” fascist underground organization. Exiled from Soviet Ukraine, it effectively hijacked much of the organized Ukrainian diaspora in Europe, Canada, and the United States. The organization in various forms still exists today.

Suprun is the husband of the Ukrainian American Ulana Suprun, a prominent Bandera enthusiast with ties to the Ukrainian far-right who served as the Healthcare Minister of Ukraine from July 2016 through August 2019.

He’s also buddies with Steve Bandera, a proud Canadian descendant of Stepan Bandera. As reported by the JTA, Stevie “has steadfastly maintained for years that his grandfather, and the Ukrainian nationalist movement in general, are innocent of perpetrating war crimes against Jews.”

Suprun is also known to associate with all sorts of Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionists. He has also served on the board of directors of organizations affiliated with the OUN-B in the United States. One of them is known as the Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms of Ukraine (ODFFU), an OUN-B front group during the Cold War headquartered in New York City. The other is the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR), founded in 2000 by lifelong “Banderites.”

Suprun, unfortunately, is not the only StopFake anchor with OUN-B ties.

Irena Chalupa, a Ukrainian American, has probably hosted the most episodes of StopFake besides Suprun. She was formerly employed by the OUN-B’s now-defunct Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), which journalists Scott and Jon Lee Anderson have described as “the largest and most important umbrella group for former Nazi collaborators in the world.” Bandera’s deputy, ideologist, and eventual successor Yaroslav Stetsko, likewise a Nazi collaborator and war criminal, led the ABN for life. Stetsko also led the OUN-B when, in the mid-1980s, Chalupa worked at the ABN/OUN-B’s international headquarters in Munich. The Kyiv Post’s Washington, D.C. correspondent Askold Krushelnycky, formerly a Stetsko family friend and ABN youth leader in Britain, has also hosted an episode of StopFake.

A few months before Bernie Sanders was born — a week after Nazi Germany declared war on the Soviet Union — Stetsko declared a short-lived de facto Nazi client state on Bandera’s behalf in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

“The newly formed Ukrainian state will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany,” Stetsko said, and its forces “will continue to fight with the Allied German Army…”

Five days prior, Stetsko wrote a letter to Bandera in which he said, “We are making a militia which will help to remove the Jews and protect the [Ukrainian] population.” As noted by the Ukrainian Canadian scholar John Paul Himka, “about a week later that militia played a leading role in the Lviv pogrom,” and was subordinated to the SS. The year World War 2 began, a Ukrainian Canadian publication published an article by Stetsko in which he “placed Jews at the centre of an international conspiracy by suggesting that Jewish capitalists and Jewish Communists were collaborating to promote Jewish interests.”

Why is this old history important?

A day after Marko Suprun appeared on CNN, Bernie Sanders did a CNN event of his own: a televised town hall event in Charleston, South Carolina. There on stage Sanders received a question about his Jewish identity, and the significance of potentially being the first Jewish president of the United States.

He explained,

As it happens, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler. My brother and I and our wives went to Poland, to the town that he [their father] was born in. And there they took us, the very nice people of the town, they took us to a place where the Nazis had had the [Jewish] people dig a grave and they shot them all, three hundred people in there.

It’s important to remember that OUN — the Ukrainian fascist organization that CNN expert Marko Suprun supports and lionizes — was very much involved in the Holocaust just east of where Sanders’ family lived. The OUN members who collaborated with the Nazis didn’t simply guard concentration camps; they weren’t just passively involved. They did the actual killing — which included joining auxiliary police units that served at the frontlines of the “Holocaust by Bullets.”

And CNN is promoting this guy. It’s gross and disturbing.

Marko Suprun’s appearance on CNN should also serve as a wake-up call and a reminder that the Bandera cult which perpetually clamors for a cataclysmic conflict with Russia is alive and well today. And if the media continues to promote conspiratorial thinking about a nonexistent Bernie-Russia relationship, it risks boosting the anti-Semitic and crypto-fascist crew that Suprun runs with.

Moss Robeson is an independent researcher. Follow him on Twitter.

Immigrants as a Weapon is a new investigative newsletter that looks at the weaponization of nationalism and immigrant communities. Check out this introductory post and read the archives.