Russian businessman speaks Belarusian, funds Museum of Gentry (photo)


The businessman wired the amount to the bank account of Vaukavysk district administration several days ago. Taking use of his visit to Belarus, Euroradio talked to this extraordinary man. Pavel answered questions in Belarusian, almost flawlessly. Born in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Pavel Podkorytov now lives in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, but his grandmother came from Belarus.

Pavel Podkorytov: "My grandmother was born in Belarus, in Vitsebk region, Chashniki district. She left early. The grandfather was from Russia's North. He served in the army here. Then he worked with the railways. He was later dispatched to work in Petrozavodsk and then to the Urals. That's how they left Belarus."

Pavel Podkorytov

Although Pavel was raised by his grandmother, he never came to Belarus before 2010. He could only hear Belarusian words from the grandmother and realized it was different from the Russian language. Pavel found his love for the Belarusian identity when he was... serving his prison term.

Pavel Podkorytov: "I had troubles associated with the way they do business in Russia. I was involved in a business war, hence the circumstances. So I had a long break. I could use Internet and visited the website of Nasha Niva. I began surfing other sites, ordered some books…”

Padarosk Estate now belongs to Pavel Podkorytov

The Gates to his estate

Pavel started to read in Belarusian and realized with a surprise that he could figure almost everything he read!

Pavel Podkorytov: "They sent an issue of ARCHE magazine to me… The first book was titled "Surviving till Green Grass" or the correspondence between Bykov and Baradulin. But eventually I had to order a dictionary, because after every two or three words I would come across something I could not understand properly. So I began to read and realized in what conditions the Belarusian cause was. So I felt like giving help."

Pavel Podkorytov would soon meet writer Uladzimir Arlou. He proposed to the writer to publish his book "Where do We Come From" for children and other joint projects. He visited Belarus for the first time in 2010 and felt he belonged here. After his release from prison, Pavel Podkorytov moved to live to Tallinn, which is very close to Belarus. Euroradio asked the businessman what he actually clicked in Belarus.

Pavel Podkorytov: "Clicked" is exactly the word I used when answering questions to Belsat TV. The history of Russia is huge. But it is imperial, violent. When you begin to study it, you learn that the whole history was violent. So you start feeling sorry for the other side which was exposed to violence. Belarus was under imperial pressure. The same story continues nowadays..."

Pavel Podkorytov with his son

Pavel Podkorytov feels offended when new pseudo-historians begin to demonize Tadeus Kosciusko, Kastus Kalinouksi and other prominent Belarusians.

Pavel Podkorytov: "They try to convince us that those people were Poles, not Belarusians, that Belarusians have nothing to do with them. They try to convince Belarusians that we do not have anything apart from pottery craft and straw-plaiting. They say we are peasants and that's it."

Pavel Podkorytov: "The Land of Castles as Belarus is often referred to pushed me to buy the estate in Padarosk. I will use to found a museum of Belarusian gentry in order to show to people how the gentry lived, how they passed time and how they fought. I plant to make a modern interactive museum..."

His new passion for his Belarusian roots even inspired Pavel Podkorytov to use the surname of his grandmother - Berahovic.

Pavel Podkorytov: "Yes, I use it sometimes. I read in Akunin's book that a human being can change his appearance several times within the life span. I feel pitty for those people who do not understand it and who do not give it a try. The circumstances in my life gave me a chanve to try something new. And the surname of Berahovic is something new. I already have an e-email account registered in this name. Some people even started calling me with this surname…"