Michelle Tereshchenko: “Striving for public benefit”

26.12.2014

At the the Kiev event, the heir of the legendary Ukrainian dynasty of Tereshchenko shared some valuable information with us – about his family and about Ukraine, how it appears when looking at the country keenly and positively from outside. Michelle Tereshchenko is sure that the country has very good prospects.

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Michelle was born and raised in France, and he didn’t know much about Ukraine and the history of his family until he moved here in 2003. He settled in Glukhov (Sumy region), where the family business had launched, and dealt with what his ancestors did – flax cultivation. The firm “Desnyanskiy flax” of Michelle Tereshchenko actively cooperates with French specialists and creates new technological materials. This business has great prospects. For example, from the next year, the EU tightens their requirements for natural materials in motor cars what means that flax will be in demand. Part-time Michelle lives in Kiev, in a rented apartment in Obolon.

Michelle told how Artemy Tereshchenko had created a family business, and stressed that the confidence of farmers were laid down the success then- the trade credit they gave to his ancestor. During the Crimean War, Tereshchenko provided the army with food and timber. Then he began to build sugar factories. Over time, the business was headed by his son – Nicolas Artemovich. In 1874, Tereshchenko moved to Kiev. The family established a joint stock company, which 80% of the profits earmarked for charity and social needs. On the blue and yellow emblem of Tereschenko the motto “striving for public benefit” appeared.

At Tereshchenko’s cost they built in Kiev Vladimir Cathedral, Polytechnic Institute, Conservatory, several art museums, four grammar schools, four hospitals (including Okhmatdet), etc.

By the early 20th century, Tereshchenko had 39 sugar mills. Michelle’s father Mikhail Tereshchenko was a very rich man, even by European standards. “He did not know how much money he had, – Michelle says. – even 20% of the profits from sugar factories is a great amount.” In 1917, Mikhail Tereshchenko headed in the Provisional Government the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. It was him, who signed on behalf of the Empire under the loan guarantee, which the Provisional Government took in Europe. After the establishment of Soviet power, the family moved to France, and Mikhail Tereshchenko throughout his life continued to pay on the loan, for which he considered himself responsible. In Kiev, only Varvara Nikolaevna Tereschenko remained (by marriage – Khanenko). She did not want to leave the art collection, which had been gathered by the family for many years. She gave it as a gift to Kiev and lived in a small room in the attic of the museum.

For the years in Ukraine, Michelle has written two books about his family. “That’s because of a long Ukrainian winter”, – he laughs. Recently republished book “First Mogul. The Extraordinary Story of My Grandfather as if Told Me by My Grandmother” was presented and autugraphed by the author for each event’s participant (supported by “Gvozdiy and Oberkovich” Company).

Michelle Tereshchenko brought us to the Museum of Art named after Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko. Under the auspices of Tereshchenko, the tour around the museum was carried out almost in a family way. In addition to the famous Bellini and Velazquez, we admired the works by Perugino, Goya, Rubens, Pieter Brueghel, a collection of Chinese painting and, of course, the unique Byzantine icons of VI-VII centuries. Normally strict custodians of the museum in the presence of Michelle even allowed us (unheard of!) to photograph the exhibit items.

In the evening, at the invitation of Michelle Tereschenko, all family business owners attended the Conservatory, where a charity event and the auction “Heritage Foundation of Tereshchenko.” took place. The Foundation for many years has helped the center for children’s cardiology and cardiac surgery, which is functioning on the territory of Okhmatdet in the building of a hospital for laborers, built by Tereshchenko. It is near the center of pediatric cardiology, where the monument to an honorary citizen of Kyiv Nikola Artemievich Tereshchenko appeared five years ago.