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Defunding the Myths and Cults of
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Defunding Cold War Canada
Table of Contents
Canada’s anti-Red, Cold War
propaganda in context
From Chomiak to Freeland: “keep that flame alive”
As a teen, in the late Cold War era of Reagan’s 1980s, Chrystia Freeland began her journalism career with jobs for two far-right Ukrainian-Canadian publications in which her maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, had also been deeply involved. Both used the same Cold War memes about "captive nations" that had been popularized by wartime fascists. While these were likely the last publications on which Chomiak worked, they were Freeland’s first known jobs. The highly-charged, rightwing milieu of these workplaces must have helped to shape her worldview, and to hone her skills as a propagandist eager to aid the cause of antiSoviet, Ukrainian nationalism.
She was guided along this path not only by her mother’s family, whose patriarch (Chomiak) was the Nazi’s top Ukrainian news propagandist, but by teachers, the Ukrainian Catholic church and such militantly patriotic groups as Plast. (See also.)
Chomiak had also been steeped in the biased, advocacy journalism of ultrapatriotic Ukrainian culture. Both began their youthful media careers when thrown headlong into extraordinary historical events that riveted ethnonationalist aspirations. Being in the right place at the right time, they both received widespread public acclaim by serving their community’s interests. Their public fame, aided by outside political forces that ruthlessly exploited Ukrainian nationalism, allowed them to become media gatekeepers editing large news enterprises.
In Freeland’s case, in her early 20s, she was simultaneously a student, political activist and journalist in Lviv, and was fully engaged in Ukraine’s final NATO-backed battle to separate from the USSR. Chomiak too had been a student and journalist in Ukraine on the nationalist beat. While studying law at Lviv University (1930-31), Chomiak wrote for Dilo (Deed), the top daily paper in Galicia, southwest Ukraine. Later, he worked on its editorial staff (1934-39).1
His work included covering at least one terrorism trial of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). To gain Ukraine’s independence, the fascist OUN assassinated Polish politicians. While on Dilo’s staff, said scholar John Paul Himka, Chomiak worked for a Lviv law "firm that handled one of the famous OUN assassination cases." While Chomiak’s articles "made him a famous cub reporter,"2 said Himka (who as Chomiak’s son in law, is Freeland’s uncle), he had a conflict of interest.
How could he write unbiased news about such trials when, as an intern trying to pass the bar, he was beholden to a law firm defending terrorists? His objectivity was also tainted by the Ukrainian nationalist struggle with which he so closely identified.
Freeland too was in a major conflict of interest. The widely-accepted narrative is that she was an "accidental journalist"3 who, in 1990, suddenly began her meteoric rise through some of the world’s largest media firms. This legend, created by Freeland herself, neglects mention of her deep involvement in the divisive, partisan fight to sever Ukraine from the USSR. In early 1989, when her political meddling hit the news, she signalled her intent to enter mainstream journalism and hinted at her conflict of interest. "Freeland says her political activism," reported Don Retson, "may not make her an ideal journalist."4
Freeland’s legend still neglects mention of her work for far-right propaganda organs in Canada, the US and Europe. These Ukrainian nationalist and CIA-linked enterprises were the early steps in her career. Freeland’s skill in feigning objectivity allowed her to become a beloved darling of corporate media, which remains as entrenched in Russophobic/pro-NATO rhetoric as it was throughout the Cold War.
The right place, the right time and the ultraright ideology
Freeland’s media career benefited from her extremely anticommunist and Russophobic views. These ideologies were valuable assets for candidates seeking work in the Western media. And, being in Soviet Ukraine during the final battle of the Cold War, put her in the right place at just the right time. Beginning in about 1990, Freeland assisted billionaire George Soros in his efforts to influence Ukrainian politics. At that time, Soros began funding the CIA-created propaganda network—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty—which assisted her entrée into mainstream media.
A main goal of the nationalist, anti-Soviet Ukrainian media for which both Chomiak and Freeland worked in the 1980s, was Ukraine’s independence. Since WWII, Ukraine had been a frontline battleground for NATO Cold Warriors and their propagandists. Their ambition to destroy the USSR and communism in general, had previously been a central goal of the Nazis and their fascist Ukrainian allies.
After WWII, recognising that the "nationalities issue" was a key weakness of the multicultural USSR, the CIA recruited Ukrainian nationalists linked to terrorism and Nazism. A now-declassified, CIA document states that its OUN allies
participated in terrorist activities against Polish officials before the war, and Ukrainian nationalists allied themselves with their Nazi ‘liberators’ ... in 1941.5
important historical light on the Holocaust and other war crimes, as well as the US Government’s involvement with war criminals during the Cold War. It further enhances public confidence in government transparency.7 (Emphasis added.)
But the CIA invested its "confidence" not in "transparency" but in the Nazi’s East European collaborators, especially Ukrainians. These fascist, US allies were trusted assets in many covert actions against the USSR. Because Canada was the world’s prime place of refuge for antiSoviet Ukrainians after WWII, more than 500 CIA weblinks on the four secret projects mentioned above, make reference to Canada.8
Keeping Chomiak’s "flame alive"
After fleeing the Red Army three times, Chomiak ended his wartime career when the Nazis could no longer protect their Ukrainian propaganda efforts. But, after fleeing to Canada in 1948, Chomiak was again free to propagate the nationalist brand of Ukrainian culture to which he was accustomed. Knowing of his work as a Nazi propagandist, Freeland said his wartime experiences
had a very big effect on me .... [He] was committed to the idea ... that Ukraine would one day be independent and that the community had a responsibility to the country they had been forced to flee ... to keep that flame alive.9
Once in Canada, Chomiak attended Ukrainian Catholic church with Freeland and worked with Nazi-allied Ukrainian veterans groups, like the Waffen SS Galicia and Bandera’s OUN(B) army. He also supported Plast and the Banderite-led UCC, which Freeland still keenly supports. These factors helped set the course for her to become a darling of the corporate press. Later, by building on this media work, Freeland launched her political career. During her meteoric rise to Deputy PM, Freeland has come to symbolise Canada’s extremely Russophobic and anticommunist policies. As such, her maternal grandfather would surely have been as proud of her efforts as she is of his.
1. Ukrainian Archival Records at the Prov. Archives of Alberta, 2018, p.17. http://bit.ly/UkrArch
2. John Paul Himka, personal communication with Richard Sanders, Jan. 25, 2017.
(Thanks to Pawel Markiewicz for this source and to Christian Manser for translating it.)
3. Rebecca Wetherbee, "The Accidental Journalist: Financial Times U.S. Managing Editor Chrystia Freeland tells how to survive the economic crunch...," Little Pink Book, May 20, 2013. http://bit.ly/AccJourn
4. Don Retson, "Student ‘glasnost’ chilly," Edmonton Journal, May 20, 1989. http://bit.ly/FreeChill
5. Kevin Ruffner, "Cold War Allies: Origins of CIA’s Relationship with Ukrainian Nationalists," Fifty Years of the CIA, 1998, p.27. http://bit.ly/50yrsCIA
6. Google search of CIA website for these four Ukraine-related programs http://bit.ly/UkrCIAfiles
7. These US records on Nazis "include operational files of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) totalling 1.2 million pages, and 114,200 pages of CIA material." (The OSS was the CIA’s wartime precursor.) http://bit.ly/Nazi-CIA
8. Search of CIA website for references to Canada in these programs’ files. http://bit.ly/UkrCdaCIA
9. Linda Diebel, "How Chrystia Freeland became Justin Trudeau’s first star," Toronto Star, November 29, 2015. http://bit.ly/2mdiop6
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