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Speech of Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Singapore at the Rotary Club of Jurong Town
Опубліковано 06 липня 2015 року о 14:09

Dear President Chang, Distinguished Fellow Rotarians of Jurong Town, Ladies and gentlemen.

It puzzled me from the very first minute, when our amazingly proactive friend MC suggested me to deliver a speech at our 45th Installation Dinner 2015.

President Chang kindly advised me not to forget about the substance of this particular event when making my address. Thank you, Fu-Gui, I'll do my best, as promised, when I requested your thoughtful recommendations on the patterns of the speech.


Firstly, I'd like to briefly share with you my story of getting acquainted with Rotary movement. 

As a student of Moscow State University, I was taught that the bourgeois society was man-hostile by definition and plagued with many unhealthy and suspicious organisations, Rotary International undoubtedly was meant to be one of them.

According to Kremlin chieftains, they were created to protect capitalism in this or that manner, distract working class from fight for its rights, and confuse international solidarity of the proletariat. 

It was like that in the Soviet Empire.

I was not a thankful disciple of such kind of ideology, hence remained quite prepared to learn something nice about capitalism, democracy, and, well, the Rotary movement. 

A dozen of years ago I got acquainted with a gentleman from the Philippines, who devoted much of his life to Rotary International. I learnt from him about hundreds of thousands of you, my friends, who free-willingly dedicated so much of yourself to make this life better for others.

Polio eradication is pivotal for Rotary. Consequently, the following story is about your eagerness to be helpful. 

I am not sure whether you know much about bees, they are not so common in Singapore. Ukraine is among world leaders of honey producers, which enables me telling you about some of bees’ amazing features. To produce 1 kg of honey, a bee must land on not less than 1 mln flowers. Each insect can carry 320 heavier weights than it weighs.

There is certain similarity with what you, Rotarians, do to eradicate Polio throughout the world: upload huge burden by bringing together skills of professionals and enthusiasm of volunteers, raise money and, ultimately, achieve the sweet goal, which one can’t consume but can enjoy – victory over the dangerous disease. 

It sounds somewhat pathetic, but it's worth it

I understand, you aren't prepared to listen about yourselves in such categories. Probably, because you sincerely don't care about glory, fame, special respect or compensations. 

This makes your family so attractive!

I mean exactly family: of common principles, values, sense of humour in the end.

I'd dare to share with you also my perception of Rotary's volunteerism. 

Presently, this type of activity, unfortunately, has become common in Ukraine, as Russian war against my Motherland instigated mass movement of volunteers. In fact, today 10% of the population participate in some kind of volunteering!

Quite often, volunteering is associated with decent income and/or spare time. 

I'm proud to state that in Ukraine most of the volunteers actually devote themselves entirely to this badly needed activity irrespective of their wellbeing.

It is not simple to assess, what it means in real terms to provide relevant support for approximately 14 hundred thousands of temporarily displaced persons - the number of people, who lost their homes in Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula and certain territories in the east of my country bordering the aggressor. Casualties approximate to 6500 people on our part, with dozens of them being children. Out of 14000 wounded, kids account for almost 200

Luckily, we are not left alone with many of our problems. There are many examples of open-hearted support. The most recent one is that Rotary in London generously donated minibus to Revival Centre for disabled children in Chernihiv. On July 7, the bus will depart for Ukraine. This March Singapore Red Cross transferred $10000 for relief purposes. That donation was received with gratitude.

Living in Singapore for almost 5 years, since September 2010, two of us have had not a few opportunities to witness or even participate in variety of charity events, beginning from the unforgettable Sunshine box of our Rotary Club of Jurong Town.

By the way, in 2012 under the auspice of the 6th President Mr Nathan the diplomatic spouses led by my wife launched a photo album and raised money for the Children Cancer Foundation. 

Three weeks ago hundreds of needy Singaporeans were given cookies baked by them. Mdm Sita Shanmugam, spouse of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, graced the event. 


This jubilant year, I can't help saying a word about late Mr Lee Kuan Yew whose legacy decisively determined much of our life and fate. Together with Liubov I had an honour to liaise him and his daughter Lee Wei Ling in September 2010, when they both visited Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. 

I'd like to share with you one story pertaining to this event. While sightseeing, Mr Lee asked me of the shape of the cross installed over a grave on the territory of the millennium-old Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. I failed to answer then, I simply did not know. It was about the shape of Christian cross, which in my part of the world predominantly has two cross-bars, with one of them being oblique. Much later, I learnt from a knowledgeable theologian a version, which I even tried to tell Mr Lee personally, and sent him a letter that remained unanswered. Hopefully, he read it before passing away.

Oblique cross-bar symbolises the Jesus' words, which He addressed to one of the two thieves, Dismas, who unlike Gestas supported Jesus' innocence and to whom Jesus replied: "Today you will be with me in Paradise". Dismas' position was to the right from Jesus, and since then one edge of oblique cross-bar points at the sky, promising Paradise, while opposite one points downward, at Hell - Gestas' destination.

For almost 2000 years after Jesus crucifixion, as well as before, humans stand before the Dismas' or Gestas' options. This narrative is far not concerning religion, but rather about humankind ability to tell dark side from light one, about our own civilisational pros and contras, likes and dislikes. Every single moment of our life we have an opportunity to opt, which direction to move, what to do, etc., like Dismas and Gestas had ones upon a time. 

Some of us choose the dark side, other give preference to the light one. This can be influenced, however, sadly, can’t be eradicated. 


Rotarians attach particular attention to education. It is worth special appreciation, as ignorance, same as sheer propaganda, at best, plays bad jokes on people.

It is time to share with you one of the latest and rather popular in Ukraine anecdote. Not all of you might be aware of the drama with Alaska: it was sold by Russian Emperor to the US in 1867. This transaction is presently judged by many Russians to be carried out with numerous irregularities. As a result:

70% Russians would like to encompass Alaska into Russia, 

80% are ready to fight for this, 

90% are unable to show Alaska on a map.


Dear friends, through your selfless service, through your Rotarian-style behaviour you make the poverty less painful, you calm down violence and inter-religious intolerance, you set up attractive alternatives within local communities, groom followers all over around by mean of your example. 


I believe that you repeat the following questions almost as a mantra: 

▪ Is it the truth?

▪ Is it fair to all concerned?

▪ Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

▪ Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Please, don’t stop answering these questions with your deeds; otherwise the world would suffer a loss. Keep attached to Rotary International 2015 slogan: Be a gift to the World!


Thank you for your kind attention and, please,

excuse my puzzle-headed speech.



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