Well-known people of Donbass

Names of famous citizens from Donbass  (that is a large mining and industrial region of South-Eastern Europe)  can be found in Guinness Book of World Records in the rubric of the richest people in the worlds, and explorers of Everest and the North Pole.


The main celebrity of Donbass is definitely the acting (the fourth) Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich.

  The President was born in 1950 in a provincial town Yenakiyevo not far from Donetsk in a workers’ family. He started his career as an auto-mechanic and machine operator, was a leader of transport enterprises. At the age of 47 Yanukovich became a Governor of Donetsk region. In 2003 he became a leader of a political party called “the Party of Regions” that is now the most powerful in Ukraine. Victor Yanukovich has twice occupied a position of Prime-Minister of Ukraine (in the periods 2002-2005 and 2006-2007).


In February 2010 he won an election with an insignificant advantage over his main rival, ex-Prime-Minister of Ukraine Julia Timoshenko. Traditionally Victor Yanukovich is mostly supported by South and East of Ukraine, which is called Donbass. He was elected a President by 90% of votes from that region.


But Victor Yanukovich failed his first presidential election held in 2004 which grew up into “the Orange Revolution” in Ukraine. By that moment Yanukovich occupied a position of Prime-Minister and he was a main rival to Victor Yushchenko (as a candidate for presidency proposed by opposition). Yanukovich was supported on the East and South of Ukraine, but he did not manage to won the election from Yushchenko. Millions of Ukrainians expressed their protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev. Those days it was disclosed that Yanukovich had two criminal records for robbery and street fighting.

Victor Yanukovich is called “Ukrainian George Bush Senior” for his frequent lapsus in language and comical sayings. At various times journalists also exposed him as an illiterate man. For example, once he made confusion over Montenegro and Kosovo, North Ossetia and South Ossetia. He called his electorate on the West of Ukraine as “the best genocides of the country”, and he called a famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov as a Ukrainian poet.


President Yanukovich is a Doctor of Economics, member of Academy of Economic Sciences of Ukraine and Professor (on the presidential elections in 2005 in his autobiography Yanukovich wrote the word “professor” with double “f”. Since that time illiterate persons are jokingly called “proffessors” in Ukraine).


Victor Yanukovich’s policy is characterized as pro-Russian. But his main pre-election promise to make Russian the second state language in Ukraine he has not been fulfilled so far.


Victor Yanukovich is married to Lyudmila (housewife) with two adult sons Aleksandr (a businessman) and Victor (a businessman and politician).


The Ukrainian President’s hobby is court tennis, hunting, and pigeon breeding. Victor Yanukovich also likes to play the guitar. Moreover, Mr. President positions himself as a very religious man.


The Richest Resident of Ukraine 


  Probably there is no any person in Ukraine who would not know his name. Rinat Akhmetov (was born in 1966) is the youngest and the most powerful Ukrainian businessman and politician. He owns the Company «System Capital Management» (SCМ) and Football Club “Shakhtar”, which is a multiple champion of the Ukrainian Football Championship and Holder of Euro Cup 2009. He is engaged in charitable activities.


Akhmetov is a member of the Party of Regions. Since 2006 he has presented this political force in Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovnaya Rada). But for that period time the politician has not distinguished himself as a generator of legal initiatives and regular attendant of Verkhovnaya Rada. Actually Akhmetov is considered a main sponsor of the Party of Regions. In 2009 the Journal «Forbes» estimated Akhmetov’s capital in 5,2 milliard dollars. He occupied the 148 position in the rating of the richest people of the world. 


Akhmetov is not very enthusiastic about telling how he managed to become wealthy and avoids giving any details. The Ukrainian billionaire was born and grew up in Donetsk in a miner’s family from Tatarstan. He received a higher Economical education. Today his business empire consists of about a hundred enterprises which employ more than 160 thousand people. Akhmetov owns assets in mining, metallurgical, power production, banking, telecommunication insurance and media sectors and retail.


Rinat Akhmetov is an honorary citizen of Donetsk and an honorary activist of sports in Ukraine. He is a holder of various honorary rewards. Akhmetov’s family is his wife Liliya, who is a leader of «System Capital Management» (SКМ) subdivisions, and two sons Damir (was born in 1988) and Almir (was born in 1997).


The main passion of the Ukrainian dollar billionaire is sport (boxing, football and Wu-Shu).

Once journalists asked Akhmetov a question “What are your fears?” The businessman replied “Firstly, I do not like to be hungry. Secondly, I do not like to be ill. And thirdly, I do not want to die”.


Wunderkind from a remote village of Donetsk region


His name and music is an official brand of Donetsk, which is a hosting city of Football Championship Euro 2012. Sergei Prokof’yev (1891-1953) is an author of ballets “Romeo and Juliet” and “Cinderella” that are popular all over the world. He was born in the village of Solntsevka (at present this is the village of Krasnoye) in Donetsk Region. Today that territory is a part of Ukraine, but in the past it used to be a part of Russia (later, the Soviet Union).


The genius composer and pianists was upbringing in a family of the agronomy and pianist. He got a nickname “Ukrainian Mozart”, because he started to create music at the age of 6 years. And at the age of 9 years he composed his first opera.


The great composer was a brave experimenter that contradicted the Soviet Union canons. The Soviet Union criticized his music, and Prokof’yev himself was proclaimed as a public enemy. About 15 years Prokof’yev lived in immigration, but he always spoke about his native land with proud. He was recognized all over Europe and in the USA. Once after his concerts the Parisian newspapers wrote –“Steel fingers, steel armrests, steel biceps, and steel triceps…This is not music but a sound of steel trust”.


In the history of music Prokof’yev was recognized as one of the most progressive composers of ХХ century. Today he is also one of the most frequently played classical composers. His operas “Love to Three Oranges” and “War and Piece”, as well as the Ballet “Tale about Stone Flower” were recognized as masterworks. An academy in Donetsk and musical school in his native village of Krasnoye were named after him. In his native village there is a museum where it is possible to know about his life and work. Festivals and music competitions have been held on Prokof’yev native land for many years, and in Donetsk people are proud about him. Donetsk International Airport was also named after him.


Donetsk started its history from his plant


    It is hard to imagine how modern Donetsk might look like if it had not been founded by a businessman from South Wales. In 60-eis of XIX century a director of the iron-rolling plant located near London John James Hughes (in Russia he was pronounced as “Yuz”) actively cooperated with the Russian government. Once he learnt about a land rich in iron-ore that was located on the bank of the river Kalmius (those days it was a territory of Bakhmutsky county in Russian Empire Eketerinovskaya province).


In 1869 Hughes bought those lands and moved to live in Russia.  


He started to build a plant specialized in producing rail lines. He founded “New Russian Society of coal, iron and rail production”. In Russia Hughes was the first businessman who started to use coal from local coalmines for cast iron and steel production.


A multi-product plant, founded by Hughes became an industrial center of Russia (and afterwards of Ukraine). An industrial settlement was established around the plant, and it was rapidly developed into a town with many thousand residents. It was given a name “Yuzovka” (after the founder of the production process). Half a century later Donetsk appeared at place of the largest industrial center of the Soviet Union…


John Hughes was born in 1814 in Merthyr Tydfil that was one of the largest and richest industrial towns of South Wales in England. His farther was an engineer and the head of the metallurgical plant in Merthyr Tydfil. His son John Hughes followed his footsteps. An enterprise headed by John in his native town was named “Millwall Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company”.


John Hughes came to Russia as an experienced metal manufacturer and big master in management at the age of 55 years. He brought about a hundred professionals and his family (his wife and four sons) with him. He gained a reputation of talented engineer, energetic, entrepreneurial and goal-oriented person from local citizens.


But John Hughes did not manage to implement all his plans due to poor health and lack of energy. Last years of his life he operated his company from St. Petersburg. And on 17th July 1889 his heart stopped beating at Angleterre Hotel in St. Petersburg...


Nowadays his monument is erected in Artyoma Street, which is the main street in Donetsk. There is also a hotel and brew-house named “John Hughes”. But Yuzov mansion, that used to be very beautiful in past times, is getting depreciated before our eyes.


Donetsk “Image-maker”


     In summer 2010 Donetsk celebrated its 90-year anniversary of Vladimir Degtyaryov’s birthday (1920-1993). He is no more alive, but Donbass speaks about him with proud and respect. Degtyaryov is called “the second parent of Donetsk” (the first parent was John Hughes). He occupied a position of the First Secretary of Regional Committee of the Communist Party and was a Leader of Donetsk Region for 12 years (from 1964 to 1976).


For that period of time Donetsk was developed into the largest and most beautiful megapolis of the Soviet Union. Here are only several Vladimir Degtyaryov’s achievements are outlined.


In 60-ies years Donetsk as well as the entire USSR was under “the iron curtain”. But in contradiction to the overall non-acceptance of “all Western things”, Degtyaryov actively implemented foreign incentives in Donetsk reality (life). Once visiting Versailles in France, he decided to forward Donetsk botanists (gardeners) to France to learn the art of park design. Several years later Donetsk became “a city of millions roses”, and in 1970 UNESCO recognized it as the cleanest and the greenest industrial city of the world. Foreign tourists started to visit Donetsk.


In 1969 the first Jazz festival took place in Donetsk, though in the entire Soviet Union Jazz was under an unspoken prohibition. Those days it was a cultural nationwide event. Since that time a jazz festival is hold Donetsk as a good tradition. By the way, according to local journalists, Degtyaryov’s son was a producer of the first rock-group in Donetsk.


For the period of time when Degtyaryov governed the city, the first many-storied buildings, sports and youth amenities were erected. The city became not only an industrial center, but also a scientific center, a city of universities. Botanic Garden, the largest in Europe, and the Park of Leninsky Komsomol appeared in the city. Nowadays a wonderful Donbass Arena Stadium is located near the park.


In 1976 a famous Italian football club “Juventus” came to Donetsk and Donetsk football club “Shakhtar” won its first legendary victory. Thus, the miners’ city bravely announced about itself to the whole world. By the way, as a local legend says, it was particularly Vladimir Degtyaryov who proposed FC Shakhtar to make its playing kits in orange and black colors. Today orange and black are the main colors of FC Shakhtar Donetsk.


He made a choice of «Pepsi»


    A name of that big political player is also associated with Donbass. The First Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Head of Council of Ministers of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) became famous in the whole world by the fact that he promised to show America “Kuzkina Mat’” . The future leader of the super powered country was born in the village of Kalinovka in Kurskaya province (Russia). When Nikita was 14 years old, his family moved to Ukraine to Uspensky ore mine near Yuzovka (modern Donetsk).


Being a teenager, Khrushchev worked in s plants and coal mines of Donbass, that is why to the question “Where did Khrushchev originate from?” people often answer that he was from Donbass.


Nikita Khrushchev was a leader of the Soviet Union for about 10 years (from 1953 to 1964). His leadership is remarkable for disillusionment of Stalin’s cult personality, rehabilitation of some dissidents who suffered from Stalin’s repressions, and the beginning of Khrushchev Thaw.


Under Khrushchev’s leadership Ukraine received the Crimea as a present, Yuriy Gagarin became the first human in outer space, nuclear missiles were allocated in Cuba, and thousand of the Soviet Union agricultural lands were planted with maize. But at the same time peaceful demonstrations were violently cleared away with evolvement of military forces…


And Pepsi that became a favorite drink of millions of the USSR citizens also appeared tanks to Nikita Khrushchev. In 1959 American National Trading Exhibition took place in Moscow that was visited by Khrushchev and the USA President Richard Nixon. There is a rumor that Nixon proposed Khrushchev to taste Pepsi that was brought from the USA to compare tastes of the drink produced in the USA and in Moscow. Khrushchev tried both drinks and announced that Moscow Pepsi tasted much better than New-York Pepsi. And shortly after that he started to propose Moscow Pepsi saying “Here is Pepsi that is really nice”. So photos of Khrushchev where he keeping the drink in his hand, was a kind of advertisement, and Pepsi started to be publicly sold in the USSR.


“The Ukrainian Monet”



A painter Arkhip Kuinji (1842-1910) is called “the alchemist of color” or Ukrainian/Russian Monet. The great landscapes painter was born in Mariupol (at the Azov Sea, Donetsk Region), in a Greek russified family. His farther was a shoemaker. The family name “Kuinji means “a goldsmith” in Tartar language. And indeed Arkhip’ unique ability to play with lights and colors was admired by such famous painters as Repin and Aivazovsky.



«Illusion of light was his divine, there were no any painter who could have equal achievements in producing such miraculous paintings», said Ilya Repin about his friend. The matter is that Kuinji’s paints have special “light-irradiating” colors that have not been faded so far. A secret of “the miracle” has not been discovered so far.


The painter had a severe fate. His parents died very early and he had to earn money for leaving himself. He did not have time to go to school. At first he was busy with feeding geese and then he assisted a church builder. So, the boy’s responsibility was to calculate the number of bricks necessary for construction. But he drew rather more pictures, than figures with his pencil… The genius boy drew his first pictures on fences, walls and pieces of paper. The future master of colors also worked for a corn-merchant and then for photographers as a color correction artist. A dream to enter the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg was non-achievable for a long time, because the self-taught painter failed to pass the entrance exams several times. And only 8 years later he became a free listener at the Academy of Arts, and then he delivered lectures as a professor there.


At the peak of his creative age he suddenly stopped to expose his paintings. Despite his howling success, Kuinji silenced for more than 30 years, working alone with no pupils. It is said that he was pressed with his personal fame that was not desirable for him. Critics of Arts consider that thanks to Kuinji, two more painters Levitan and Serov became famous in the arts of painting. Such outstanding landscape painters as Rerikh and Rylov were formed under his influence. Today Kuinji landscape paintings are exposed in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Ukraine and Donbass are very proud of him. Kuinji paintings can be seen HERE.


Famous Poet and Human Rights Advocate


    An outstanding poet, publicist and human rights advocate Vasiliy Stus (1938-1985) is associated with Donetsk. In 2005 he was posthumously awarded with the title “Hero of Ukraine” for “undestroyable courage, sacrificial devotion to Ukraine and National Idea, high humanistic creative ideals”. Stus was born in the village of Rakhnovka in Vinnitskaya region (Central Ukraine) in a peasants’ family. He drank love to Ukrainian language with his mother’s milk who sang him Ukrainian folk songs.


Some time later Stus’ family moved to Donbass. Vasiliy spent his school and student years in Donetsk. In 1959 he graduated from the philological department “Ukrainian language and literature” of Stalin Pedagogical Institute (today this is a philological faculty of Donetsk National University). He was a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature in Gorlovka town (Donetsk region), worked as a minor at the coalmine in Donetsk and a literary editor at the newspaper “Socialist Donbass”. In autumn 1963 Stus moved from Donetsk to Kiev and became a post-graduate student at the Institute of Literature named after Taras Shevchenko.


Stus’ poetry is not easy for reading. Vasiliy Stus was given a nickname “Ukrainian Dante of XX century” because he could feel and render the atmosphere and experience of his complicated time. Stus started to write actively in the time of so-called “Khrushchev Thaw” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrushchev_Thaw. He spoke against repressions undertaken towards Ukrainian intelligentsia by soviet power and encouraged restoration of personality cult. For his devotion to Ukrainian traditions and democratic principles, Stus had to pass through “9 circles of hell”, in other words he was arrested twice (totally 15 years of prison), suffered from continuous deportation and prosecution.


Stus was interested in reading works of Kipling, Goethe and Rilke, translated their works into Ukrainian language.


At his second arrest, in 1985 Vasiliy Stus was nominated as Nobel laureate in literature. However the poet did not live to the time when the results were announced. He died on 4th September 1985 in a strict-security prison in Permskaya region (Russia). Stus died on the second day of his dry starvation in the isolation lock-up. Circumstances of his death are still not known. The poet died only several years before the beginning of “perestroika” and rehabilitation of political prisoners …


In 2001 at the meeting of philological faculty of Donetsk National University (were Stus studied) a memorable bas-relief of the poet was fixed. Translated works of Vasiliy Stus can be read HERE.


“A Bird - Man”


     Such nickname was obtained by the Olympic Champion in Men’s Pole Vault Sergei Bubka. On 13th July 1985 in Paris he became the first man who could pole-vault above 6 meters. This famous athlete was born in 1963 in Lugansk (Donbass). But the legendary record in 6 meters 15 centimeters he set up in Donetsk in 1993. Since that time Bubka is an honorary citizen of Donetsk. A monument to Sergei Bubka that has a height equivalent to his record was erected in the central street in front of the Sports Facilities “Olympiysky”.


By the way, his record 6,15m is still unbeaten! But for his carrier Sergei Bubka 44 times pole-vaulted higher than 6 meters and set 35 world records. For those achievements Sergei Bubka was recorded in Guinness Book of World Records.


The athlete from Donbass got a title of the World Champion six times and he was recognized as the best athlete of the world three times. And in 1988 he became Champion of ХХІV Olympic Games in Seoul.


More than 10 years Sergei Bubka has been a member of International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 2007 he was elected as Vise-President of the International Federation of Track and Field athletics and the First Vice-President of IAAF.


Sergei Bubka is not only a sportsman, politician, businessman; he is also a Candidate of pedagogic sciences. He was also awarded with the title “Hero of Ukraine”. Since 1990 an annual international competition in pole-vault called “Zvyozdy Shesta”/ Stars of Vaulting Pole/ has been held under his patronage for the strongest athletes from all mover the world.


Today Sergei Bubka is President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine. He is a member of “the Party of Region” and since April 2010 he is a part-time counselor of the President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich.


Golden Sportswoman-Gymnast


     One more Donbass Olympic star, a gymnast Lilia Podkopayeva was born in 1978 in Donetsk. She became world-famous after she won the Olympic Games in Atlanta (the USA) in 1996. That year Lilia won a golden medal for her incredible “front double somersault with a 180-degree reversal”. That complicated element is a visit card of Donetsk sportswoman. No one in the world has repeated that element so far.


In her sport carrier Lilia Podkopayeva became a holder of 45 golden, 21 silver and 14 bronze medals of the international competitions. In 1995 in Japan Lilia won the all-around competition and became a holder of the European Cub. One year later she was recognized as all-around champion of Europe.


Today Lilia Podkopayeva is a star of Ukrainian show-business, a successful business lady and a public person. In Donetsk region she established a chain of gymnastic schools and organized an annual sports festival “Zolotaya Lilia” /Golden Lilia/.


In 2004 Podkopayeva presented Ukraine at the Council of Europe on sports issues, tolerance and fair play. In 2005 she became a United Nations ambassador of Goodwill on AIDS issues. For her contribution into struggling with HIV/AIDS, the United Nation awarded Lilia Podkopayeva with a high reward.


In Ukraine Lilia became a “Woman of the Year”, and a winner in the popular TV-show “Dances with Stars”. In addition, the sports woman occupied the third position on “Dance Eurovision 2008”. She was awarded with the Badge of Merit, Cross “For Courage”, Order of Merit of II and III grades and Medal “For Active Public Activities”.


In 2008 the United Nations issued a post stamp for the USA with Lilia Podkopayeva’s image.


The World Ballet Star



Vadim Pisarev, an honorable citizen of Donetsk, an art-director of Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Anatoly Solovyanenko is called “the world ballet star”. And it has some grounds. The honored artist of Ukraine, the best dancer of the world (in 1995 on UNESCO’s version) was born in 1965 in Donetsk. Thanks to Vadim Pisarev the city has already been a center of the ballet arts for 17 years. The world ballet stars come to Donetsk to participate in the Annual International Festival.

Pisarev visited about 70 countries of the world on tours. Donetsk dancer was repeatedly invited to work in the best theatres of Europe, but he stayed in his native city.


Vadim Pisarev studied at Kievsky State Chorographical School and graduated in 1983. He practiced in Bolshoi Theatre (from 1984 to 1985) and Maryinsky Theatre (in 1991). Since 1983 he worked as a soloist in Donetsk ballet troop.


Vadim is a laureate of a big number of prizes and awards. Some of them are “The Best Dancer of the World” (1995, UNESCO prize), “A Person of the Yeas in Ukraine” (1996) and others. The press calls him “the king of cabriol jump”.


In order to preserve and multiply traditions of the ballet arts in Donetsk, Pisarev along with his wife Inna Dorofeyeva opened a choreography school. So they open new talents.


“Prince” with Golden Voice


    Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater was named after him. There is a monument where he is exposed in “golden” clothes, and residents of Donetsk lovingly call it as “Golden Boy” or “Golden Prince”. Anatoliy Solovyanenko (1932-1999) a famous opera singer was born and grown up in Donetsk.He graduated from Donetsk Polytechnic Institute and then stayed worked their as a teacher of engineering graphics. Anatoliy Solovyanenko’ wonderful voice might have been unknown to the world if that talented young man had not been met by a famous Ukrainian teacher Aleksandr Korobeichenko…


Anatoliy became his student and in 1962 he went to Kiev to participate in a performance report (concert) in the composition of Donetsk delegation.


His performance created a furor. After a trial hearing, Solovyanenko was employed to the troupe of Kiev Opera Theatre. And it was possible despite the fact that a strong-voiced resident of Donetsk did not have a music education. Then Anatoliy Solovyanenko practiced in “Las-Skala” (Milan, Italy). After that he was invited to sing at the best sages of the world in the USA, Italy. Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada …


Several seasons he sang in New-York Metropolitan-Opera. In his repertoire there were 17 opera parts, a lot of arias, romances, Ukrainian and Russian folk songs.

Anatoliy Solovyanenko was awarded with the title Hero of Ukraine and Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.


Producer of the first cartoon


    Alexander Hanzhonkov (1877-1945) is one of the Russian cinematograph pioneers. He was also an entrepreneur, stage director and script writer. He was born in the village of Hanzhonkovka (at present a settlement Hanzhonkovo in Donetsk region not far from Donetsk) in a family of poor Cossack officer. At the beginning the future genius of cinematography chose a carrier of a military man, but after being wounded he was transferred to the reserve. Once Alexander accidentally fell in love with “biograph” (a theatre in old-time Russia) and since that time he was cinematography-stuck… 


At first Hanzhonkov and his partners hired foreign films for public exhibition and then he started to make his own films. They were mainly documentary and educating. For example, there was a film about harm of excessive alcohol drinking. Hanzhonkov asked Russia Imperator Nikolai ІІ for help in a film about defense of Sevastopol during the Crimea War. Thus, thanks to the Imperator real military divisions of the Russian army and a real war ship were engaged in battle scenes of Hanzhonkov’s film.


Particularly Hanzhonkov was the first producer in the world who applied a method of three-dimension animation for cartoon. His first cartoon was named “War of stag-beetles against long-horned beetles”. Figures of the insects were so proficiently made that a big part of audience thought that real beetles were trained for the cartoon.


The entrepreneur from Donbass made films not only for enjoyment but he also made good money. But success was replaced by hard times. People started to live Hanzhonkov’s company and foreign films stopped coming to Russia. With the beginning of Revolution in 1917 Hanzhnonkov’s company was liquidated. And the company director left the country. But after returning to motherland, Hanzhonkov fell under displeasure of authorities. Last years he spent in Yalta (the Crime, Ukraine) being wheelchair-bounded. And in September 1945 the heart of the talented film-director and script-writer stopped beating.


Annual Film-Festival “Hanzhonkov’s Days” is held in Makeyevka (Donetsk region) in honor of their legendary townsman. Film stars from Ukraine and Russia visit that event. And in Donetsk it is possible to spend good time at Film Coffee-House named after Hanzhonkov.


He planted the forest


    It took over 20 years for the forest man Victor von Graff (1820-1867) to make a part of the burnt-over Donetsk step into a thick forest. Thank to that person Donetsk region has a unique man-made forest that is the largest in the world (more than 2,500 hectares). Velikoanadolsky forest is located in Volnovakhsky rayon of Donetsk region. This is “green lungs” of Donetsk region. In 1843 Von Graff started to plant trees being a young man. He was born in Volyn’(at the North-West of Ukraine). His farther was German and his mother was Italian, but Victor von Graff called himself a Ukrainian Cossack.


After graduating from St. Petersburg Forest Institute, he was employed as an assistant of the forest man in Yekaterinoslaskaya province (at present Donetsk region). His fist task was to explore the territory and identify a site to plant the forest. And he selected the driest Velikoanadolskaya wasteland.


Von Graff collected tree-seeds from local villages and planted them with his assistants. Then he protected young plants from hares and locusts. Bu the territory was dry and young plants died from hot winds. And Victor Von Graff planted trees again and again, selecting species of trees that could survive in hot step. They were oaks, maples, ash trees, lindens and pine-trees… Today more than 600 spices of plants can be found in Velikoanadolsky forest, and 37 of them are protected by law.


Victor Von Graff opened an observatory and school for forest men in the forestry. He had to work with no days off and suffered from big troubles in order to raise the forest. It is said that when Victor Von Graff was leaving for Moscow (Russia) in response to invitation, he gave warm embraces to his trees as if they were his close friends.


Half seas over


    Georgiy Sedov is a famous Russian hydrographer and explorer of the Artic Ocean. He was born in 1877 in the village of Krivaya Kosa, (at present, the village of Sedovo in Donetsk region). The explorer of Artic was born in a fisherman’s family at the Azov Sea. At the age of 21 years old he became a lieutenant of Russian Admiralty and he went to hydrographic expedition in the Arctic Ocean.Sedov made a big contribution into exploration of the Caspian Sea and Novaya Zemplya. But his cherished dream was to explore the North Pole.


 In 1912 Sedov managed to organize an expedition to the North Pole despite big difficulties. That was the first Russian expedition to the North Pole. But it happened to be very hard and Sedov’s team was not efficiently equipped. Sedov tried to reach the North Pole by dog sledges, but he failed. Sedov’s team did not have enough food and the weather conditions were very severe. The hero Sedov died in 1914 near Rudolf Island located close to the North Archipelago.


Archipelago, island, cape, peak, channel and two gulfs, two bays were called after Sedov’s name... His native village was also named after him (the village of Sedovo was preciously named Krivaya Kosa). It is possible to visit a museum established in the village and to and learn about Georgiy Sedov’s life.



    Sergei Kovalyov  is a modern hero from Donetsk. The resident of Donetsk climbed six the highest mountain peaks of the world (Everest 8848m, Elbrus 5642m, Aconcagua 6962m., Kilimanjaro 5895m, Kostyusho’s Peak 2228m, Mc Kingly 6194m). The next peak suggested to be climbed is Vinson’s Peak (4897m) in Antarctica. Sergei Kovslyov took pieces of Donbass coal to the highest peaks of the planet. In 2008 Kovalyov’s expedition moved a piece of Donetsk coal to “the roof of the world”, that is the Mountain Everest. And in 2009 Donetsk alpinists under his leadership opened the unnamed mountain peak in Tien Shan (China) and named it in honor of Ukrainian coalminers as “The Peak of Ukrainian Coalmines”.


Today Sergei Kovalyov is President of Donetsk Region Federation of Alpinism. He is an international master of sport. In 1996 he was awarded with Order of Merit of 3-rd grade for his participation in the First Ukrainian expedition to the Himalayas. And in 1999 he was awarded with Order of Merit of 3-rd grade for his climb to the Mountain Everest.


Superman from Donbass


    Dmitry Haladzhi (1979) is the strongest human in the world and he lives in Donbass. He was recorded twice in Guinness Book of World Records. The athlete who originates from Komsomolskoye town (Donetsk region) can easily lift 150 kg with his little finger and tie a knot from steel nails. He can easily keep two cars barehanded, and bear a tractor or truck over his chest. Haladzhi can also easily bend a tire iron with his teeth and keep 30 people on his neck.


One of Dminty’s tricks, which are reordered in Guinness Book of World Records, is called “Devel’s Forge”. He keeps three concrete plates with the total weight 1,5 tons on his body lying on sharp nails. Moreover at the time of performing the trick, a smith is standing on the concrete plates hammering over the anvil.


News about unprecedented strength of a superman from Donbass was spread overseas. Governor of California state (the USA) Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood Star “the Terminator” invited Dmitry to visit him.


But unprecedented strength is not the only one Dmitry Haladzhi’s achievement. He also writes tales about ancient bogatyrs (athletes). In 2010 he was awarded with the literature reward “Golden Quill of Russia”. Dmitry was a finalist of the national show “Ukraine has talents”, but he refused form his further participation in favor of young talented people. Today Dmitry Haladzhi gives performances touring with the circus troupe.

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