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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ukraine oligarch Firtash backs new UK charm offensive Oct 16, 2013 by Roman Olearchyk #DaysOfUkraine

Firtash: brighter side
The first associations that come to mind for many Brits when Ukraine is mentioned are likely things such as Chernobyl; the 2012 European football tournament; the 2004 Orange Revolution; Yulia Tymoshenko; Europe’s breadbasket (perhaps); and billionaire oligarchs who, along with Russian counterparts, have bought up some of London’s most expensive flats.

One of them, billionaire Dmitry Firtash (pictured) – a chemicals-to-energy magnate and former partner of Russia’s Gazprom in the supplying natural gas to Ukraine and Europe – hopes to show Ukraine’s brighter side.

Along with his wife Lada, Firtash, who finances a Ukrainian programme at Cambridge University, is sponsoring this week’s ‘Days of Ukraine in the UK’ festival.

A first of its kind showcase of Ukrainian arts and folklore, the three-day festival kicks off this Thursday and Friday with a handful of invitation only events at the Houses of Parliament and Natural History Museum set to attract some of Ukraine’s richest and Britain’s most important people.

Admission is free early Friday evening at the Saatchi Gallery where visitors will get a glimpse of Ukraine’s most prominent artists, followed up by a Ukrainian fashion show, with restricted admission.

The festival culminates with a Saturday afternoon-to-evening bash open to all at Potters Field Park. It will feature Ukrainian cuisine and concerts by the country’s top musicians.

Come with an empty stomach. Ukrainian food is hearty and filling.

The hope is that by attending this festival you might change your view of Ukraine, demonstrating – in the very least – the brighter side of this country of 48m on the EU’s eastern border.

But why is Firtash digging deep to fund such an event?

“The world still knows very little about Ukraine,” wrote Boris Krasnyansky, director of Firtash’s Group DF holding, on the Firtash Foundation’s website.
Meanwhile, the reputation of the country has a significant influence, not only for attracting businesses to Ukraine, but also on the ability of Ukrainian companies to compete successfully on the global market. As a large international Group with our headquarters in Ukraine, we would like to help improve the way our country is perceived abroad. Cultural diplomacy is therefore one of the priorities of our corporate social responsibility programme.