“I came to Estonia in 1978 from Ukraine. Estonia was a place for internal migration within Soviet Union. There were many migrants like me in that time. Estonia is a very beautiful country. Even if the person could not run further to the West from Soviet Union, it was still much calmer and safer to stay in Estonia, especially for Musicians, Artists, and Writers. Also religious people didn’t have any problems here.
Migration was also economical of course. There was stability in Estonia, people could feel well here. There were no such big and vulgar bribes as it was common in Ukraine for many centuries. Estonian people managed to save the goodwill. Of course it was a Soviet Union, but it was another Soviet Union. People who came to visit me saw a bit of a different life.
We are people with our own culture, in my case the Ukrainian culture. When the Soviet Union collapsed, a lot of people had to decide whether to go back or to stay in Estonia. Many had families and work here and didn’t want to return. I went to the head of Ukrainian church and said that I also would like to stay here and there is possibility to build a Ukrainian church in Estonia. If it happened that I stayed in Estonia, it was natural that I should create a sphere of Ukrainian culture for my children. So after the church was established the cultural centre was created nearby.
My wife is a very good person, a person of local culture, more Estonian culture. Her friends told her that while all normal people build houses, your husband is building a church and that is not normal, but she supported me a lot – it was a sacrifice. You have to work hard yourself, if you invest yourself, other people see that it is fair and normal, and you will receive additional support from them too; some will come and help. The church was open in 1991.
We are all different. It would be bad if I wanted to be Estonian. I always knew that I am a person with Ukrainian culture. My Estonian education helps me to show culture and art in a way that Estonian people would understand it, so it is also unfair to call me a purely Ukrainian Artist.
It is very important to learn the language of the country where you live. Estonians are very careful in protecting their culture. I speak Estonian, I cannot say I have learned it fully, I just speak. Our home languages are Russian, Ukrainian and Estonian.”