Bohdan Stashynsky

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Bohdan Mykolayovych Stashynsky (Ukrainian: Богда́н Микола́йович Сташи́нський) (also known as Bogdan Stashinsky) (born November 4, 1931 in Barszczowice, Poland) is the KGB assassin of Ukrainian nationalist leaders Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera who were killed in the late 1950s.[1]

Early biography[edit]

Born to a family of villagers not far from Lviv, Stashynsky completed his early education in 1948 and studied to become a teacher at the Lviv Pedagogical Institute. Stashynsky's family were supporters of the anti-Soviet Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). His three sisters were members of the organization. In 1950 he was arrested for traveling without a ticket on public transportation to Lviv from his village. After agreeing to act as an informer he was released. Through his sisters he infiltrated the workings of the UPA and forwarded information to the MGB.

In 1953 he was sent to Kiev to continue studies in espionage. In 1954 he was sent to East Germany under the name Josef Lehmann where he perfected his knowledge of German. In 1956 he often traveled to Munich where he began to perfect his false identity.


Stashynsky received the instructions to carry out the assassination directly from the headquarters of the KGB in Moscow. At that time, Alexander Shelepin was Chairman of the Committee for State Security of the Council of Ministers. The assassination was known to and approved by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1957, the KGB trained the 25-year-old Stashynsky to use a spray gun that fired a jet of poison gas from a crushed cyanide capsule. The gas was designed to induce cardiac arrest, making the victim's death look like a heart attack. Stashynsky used the weapon to kill Lev Rebet in 1957. On October 15, 1959 he used an improved version of the same gas gun to assassinate Stepan Bandera in Munich.

Stashynsky was honoured by Moscow with the Order of the Red Banner by Shelepin for his work and given his final assignment to kill Yaroslav Stetsko. Stetsko, also living in Munich, was a prominent anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalist leader and also the President of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. He was to be assassinated in 1960, but it could not be perpetrated for reasons which have not been clarified.


His new German wife was shocked to find herself married to an assassin, and following the KGB's stance that effectively broke their family life, he defected to U.S. officials in West Berlin in 1961.[clarification needed]

Explaining what motivated him to kill Rebet, Stashynsky told a court that he had been told that Rebet was “the leading theorist of the Ukrainians in exile,” since “in his newspapers Suchasna Ukrayina (Contemporary Ukraine), Chas (Time), and Ukrayinska Trybuna (Ukrainian Tribune) he not so much provided accounts of daily events as developed primarily ideological issues.”

After Stashynsky's defection the Soviet government tried to avert negative exposure. On October 13, 1961, the Soviet Union arranged a press conference in East Berlin where Soviet secret service agent Stefan Lippolz blamed the murder on the cashier of Bandera's own organization, Dmytro Myskiv, who had since died. But it was established that Dmytro Myskiv was not in Munich when Bandera was assassinated but was in Rome at the time.

According to West German Intelligence chief Reinhard Gehlen,

"...Bohdan Stashinskyi, who had been persuaded by his German-born wife Inge to confess to the crimes and take the load off his troubled conscience, stuck resolutely to his statements. His testimony convinced the investigating authorities. He reconstructed the crimes exactly as they had happened, revisiting the crumbling business premises at the Stachus, in the heart of Munich, where Lev Rebet had entered the office of a Ukrainian exile newspaper, his suitcase in his hand. And he showed how the hydrogen cyanide capsule had exploded in Rebet's face and how he had left him slumped over the rickety staircase. The case before the Federal court began on October 8, 1962, and world interest in the incident was revived. Passing sentence eleven days later, the court identified Stashinskyi's unscrupulous employer Shelyepin as the person primarily responsible for the hideous murders, and the defendant -- who had given a highly credible account of the extreme pressure applied to him by the KGB to act as he did -- received a comparatively mild sentence. He served most of it and was released. Today the KGB's 'torpedo' is living as a free man somewhere in the world he chose on that day in the summer of 1961, a few days before the wall was erected across Berlin.[2]

Bohdan Stashynsky and Inge Stashinsky were given new identities and provided asylum by South Africa in 1984.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books, 1999. ISBN 0-465-00312-5 p. 362
  2. ^ Reinhard Gehlen, "The Service," World Publishing, 1972. Page 241.
  3. ^ "Report Ex-KGB Agent Living in S. Africa". Associated Press. March 5, 1984. 

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