Roman Zvarych

Roman Mykhailovych Zvarych (also spelled Zwarycz; Ukrainian: Роман Михайлович Зварич; born 1953) is a Ukrainian politician. A former United States citizen, he was one of the first people to relinquish that citizenship in order to take up Ukrainian citizenship after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Early life

Zvarych was born in Yonkers, New York to Soviet émigré parents who came to the United States during World War II. In a later interview, he said at age fifteen he swore an oath to "achieve Ukrainian statehood or ... die fighting for it."1 In 1976 he earned a B.A. with honors from Manhattan College in Bronx, New York.

In 1981 he appeared as moderator of the youth panel at a congress of the Anti-Bolshevic Bloc of Nations.

Zvarych also wrote for the ABN Correspondence2, even after he had returned to Ukraine.3

In 1982 he appeared on the "International Jubilee Committee" celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), headed by Yaroslav Stetsko.4 He appeared in a list of participants representing the World Federation of Ukrainian Students (CeSUS). Included in the list are also i.a. Senator Barry Goldwater, former DIA Director General Daniel O. Graham, former SAC commander-in-chief General Bruce K. Holloway, John K. Singlaub, Lev Dobriansky, and Otto von Habsburg.

The event was connected to Dobriansky's Captive Nations Week, as a program to an official reception mentions both events side by side.

Front cover of the reception to the 24th Captive Nations week commemorating also the 40th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Washington D.C.

Source: https://twitter.com/mossrobeson__/status/1079233226168770560

Menu and Program of the reception

Source: https://twitter.com/mossrobeson__/status/1079233226168770560

Emigration to Ukraine and political career

Zvarych moved to Ukraine in 1991. In late 1992, he and Slava Stetsko founded the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, a right-wing party, together with other émigrés of OUN-B.56

It was registered on 26 January 1993 by the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and was the 11th political party in Ukraine that was officially registered.

He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1995. Along with fellow politician Ivan Lozowy this made him one of the first former Americans to renounce U.S. citizenship in favour of Ukrainian citizenship. A notification confirming his loss of citizenship appeared in the Federal Register in June 1997 with his name listed as "Roman Mychajlo Zwarycz".

He was eventually elected in the 1998 election from a district party-list. Thereafter he sat in the Verkhovna Rada for six years, serving on various committees including the Committee on Legal Reform and the Committee on European Integration.

Outside of the Verkhovna Rada he also moonlighted as a lawyer; Ukrainian courts had no requirement for practitioners of law to hold certifications or pass a bar examination. 

On March 30, 2004, he appeared as speaker on the third Action Ukraine Coalition (AUC) meeting in Washington D.C.7

The Action Ukraine Coalition was founded on April 15, 1999 by three US Ukrainian émigré organizations, the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, the Ukrainian Federation of America and the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation.

The press release in the Ukrainian Weekly at the time defined its goals as follows:8

"All agreed to coordinate their efforts on the following task: to pursue an active rather than reactive role in Congress; to work toward placing cooperative relations between the U.S. Congress and Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada on an institutional basis and to ask the House leadership to formally initiate this process; and to develop friendly relationships between individual members of both legislatures on a one-to-one basis.

The Action Ukraine Coalition said it will make every effort to work with the entire Ukrainian American community in pursuit of these goals and will coordinate its action program with its constituent members and with the Embassy of Ukraine as well."

During the Orange Revolution in the midst of the 2004 presidential election, he successfully argued a case on behalf of Viktor Yushchenko to prevent the creation of Ukrainian voting districts for Ukrainians in Russia.

In February 2005, with Yushchenko having emerged victorious in the election, he appointed Zvarych to head the Ministry of Justice.

In April 2005, articles in Ukrayinska Pravda and other media outlets accused Zvarych of lying about holding a Ph.D. from Columbia University. A spokesperson for the university had confirmed to a Ukrayinska Pravda reporter that no person by his name had earned a degree there. Zvarych called a press conference the following month in which he admitted the truth of the accusations about the Ph.D.; in his clarifying remarks, he claimed to have been an "all but dissertation" student and to have worked as an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University, being informally referred to by colleagues and students as "professor" without having held that academic rank. He accused the Ukrainian diaspora and the Komsomol of Ukraine of orchestrating a political smear campaign to blow the misunderstanding out of proportion.

In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election Zvarych was a candidate of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, placed 82nd on the electoral list. But the party only won 63 seats on the electoral list; hence he was not (re-)elected into parliament.

Azov battalion

An involvement of Zvarych in the Azov battalion can be traced back to the autumn of 2014.

In an interview with first commander of the battalion, the far-right nationalist Andriy Biletsky (Андрій Білецький) in the Ukrayinska Pravda, Biletsky stated about Zvarych:9

"- Roman Zvarych, who in 2015 was the head of the headquarters of the "Azov" Central Committee, helped somehow financially?

- Roman Zvarych did not help financially. This is a fact.

- Maybe he helped with the right acquaintances?

- I think that we have provided more vital contacts to Roman and Svetlana Zvarych than they have to us.

- Why did you start cooperation with the Minister Zvarych of Yushchenko's times?

- It was in August or September of the year 2014. Through the Zvarych Foundation, we were partially assisted by volunteers.

At that time, we had a zero, or even negative political experience. Of which Zvarych has a lot. At the initial stage, Zvarych helped us with political advice. That's all..."

In 2015 Zvarych appeared as "Azov’s spokesman" according to former Defense and State Department advisor during the George W. Bush administration Kristofer Harrison.10

He returned to parliament on 15 March 2018 to take the place of Valery Pakzkan who had just been elected head of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine.

Bibliography