About Us

Our Team

Anatoli Ljutjuk

Anatoli Ljutjuk

Founder of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, generator of new ideas and our main source of inspiration. He's the father of two sons, best friend to Muška the dog and Džambur the cat, several crows and several hundred ragweed plants.

Bogdan Ljutjuk

Bogdan Ljutjuk

Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Center and Assistant Coordinator in Eastern Ukraine. The father of two children, a windsurfer and a happy dog owner.

Nestor Ljutjuk

Nestor Ljutjuk

Member of the Board of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and director of Labora LTD. Father of three children and happy owner of two guinea pigs.

Tatiana Iakovleva

Tatiana Iakovleva

Member of the Board of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and head of the UKK School of Calligraphy. She also works on other various projects and takes care of our garden. Happy owner of two big cats.

Hannah Harkes

Hannah Harkes

Our most important printing master at the Labora workshop. Hailing from Scotland, she accompanies Anatoli in singing Ukrainian songs which she has learned by heart.

Sergiy Anohhin

Sergiy Anohhin

Member of the board of the Ukrainian Cultural Center and inventor of mechanical toys. Father of three girls.

Ellen Dovgan

Ellen Dovgan

Librarian of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and custodian of the Centre's wisdom. A smart and educated woman who speaks both Estonian and Ukrainian as her mother tongue. Mother of three girls.

Vira Konyk

Vira Konyk

Adviser to the Ukrainian Cultural Center and head of the Estonian Congress of Ukrainians. A wise woman who everyone loves and respects.

Katja Novak

Katja Novak

Poet, philosopher, translator. UKK's curator of literary projects. One of the leading lights in the translation of Estonian poetry to Ukrainian and Ukrainian poetry to Estonian.

Eric A. Johnson

Eric A. Johnson

An indispensable advisor of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and our dear friend.

Anna Kalitsun

Anna Kalitsun

Volunteer of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. A wise woman and carer of wounded Ukrainian soldiers who come to Estonia for rehabilitation by the FUKK. She belongs to the Estonian Defense Forces.

Deniss Subbotin

A master with golden hands. This jurist who can make everything by hand, especially large books. In addition to helping UKK, he also helps Mother Teresa's Sisters in Tallinn.

Linda Viikant

Linda Viikant

Makes old paper into new, and of such a sort that you've never seen before - with seeds, plants and more.

Tamara Sobaljeva

For many years the master of UKK's papermaking workshop as well as master of the kitchen, who has fed three presidents, members of the EU Parliament, wounded Ukrainian soldiers and hungry Ukrainian students.

Mozes Tšan Tuuker

Professional underwater welding. An indispensable master if you need to weld anything, anywhere. Also cooks good Chinese dumplings.

Our Former EVS Volunteers

The Ukrainian Cultural Center is an active participant in the European Voluntary Service project. Every year, we host a volunteer from beyond Estonia’s borders. Here are some of their memories and thoughts about the time they spent with us:

Claire Sichel

Claire Sichel

NGO Ukrainian Cultural Center EVS Volunteer & Official Purveyor of Coffee

Ksenia Sulaeva

Artist, EVS volunteer. She has drawn all the animals that live in our yard. In fact, she'll draw anything and everything that's required.

Olga Voitovõtš

Olga Voitovõtš

EVS volunteer. In the UKK, she compiles catalogues of our folk costume collection.

Marcella Giannini

UKK volunteer. Master of papermaking and natural dyes.

What idea did I have of the Ukrainian Cultural Center before coming here for my EVS? A vibrant and multicultural place with a strong sense of community. What did I find upon my arrival? A unique, incredibly friendly, easy-going atmosphere. My expectations matched — and it was fantastic!

My favorite part, perhaps, was helping Anatoli – the deus ex machina – with daily and unpredictable activities. The range of these activities went from physical work such as cutting and organizing wood, moving stuff around, and much more — to the support, in many ways, of the process of creation of his volcanic ideas. The Ukrainian Cultural Center, is in fact a very dynamic place, with new things constantly emerging. One Ukrainian word summarizes most of my experiences here: “Konkretna!” (конкретна or concrete, specific in English.) 

If I had to describe my personal developments in a few words, I would say that my EVS taught me that, often, the most effective solutions are the simplest ones. And, well, how to react to … unexpected situations.

My knowledge of different cultures also developed a lot. I can definitely say that I am more familiar with Slavic cultures in general and with the social, cultural, and political dynamics of this ethno-cultural area. I believe this has also had an impact on my civic competences. I had infinite possibilities to use my social skills.

My EVS program was focused on culture, education, arts, and crafts. I never considered myself a particularly artistic person, so it was really nice to learn a range of things including, among others, handmade paper making, woodcarving, and calligraphy. No worries, my artistic skills are still awaiting to be developed properly. 🙂

The energetic spirit of the Ukrainian Cultural Center is genuine and boundless!

Davide Ermacora

September 2016 to August 2017

For a person coming from Asia, I could not have asked for more than to volunteer at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. Nestled in Tallinn’s Old Town, the Center embraces medievalism in character and spirit. From its archaic looking architecture to the beautiful people that make up the Center, everyone and everything helped make my experience as a volunteer deeply enriching and rewarding.

I was initially apprehensive about my contribution as a volunteer, owing to my minimal exposure to the arts. But Anatoli and the team identified a project for me that involved researching various handmade paper mills across Europe to come up with a suitable implementation plan for Tallinn. This helped me fit in comfortably with the rest of the team.

I also learned how to make handmade paper, took calligraphy lessons and learned a lot about letterpress printing. While I always liked handmade objects, working at the UKK made me understand the value of handmade items and the painstaking work that goes into them.

My favorite part of the day was undoubtedly our lunch which everyone made a point to join. The volunteers and staff were from different parts of the world and it was during lunch that we got to learn more about each person, their countries, and their culture. The diversity among us was always cherished and celebrated. There was so much to learn from one another and the entire experience of sharing and cross-learning was enriching.

But my most valuable lesson from my volunteering experience at the UKK is that “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” Everyone at the Center loves what they do. That is why my three months of volunteering here did not once seem like work. The Ukrainian Cultural Center is a home away from home and a place which I can always go back to.

Bindhu Thalur

December 2015 to February 2016

When I decided to apply for the EVS program I was a bit older than the average volunteer. This, along with the fact that I had to quit my job and leave many things behind, made it a Big Decision. The moment I read about this project I immediately fell in love with it and I told myself: “You have to get it!” I prepared my application and I had an outlandish conversation on Skype, at the end of which I was told that they felt exactly the same about me as I felt about them, and that they wanted me to come. Six months later I packed my bags and moved to Estonia, a country I knew nothing about.

The Ukrainian Cultural Center is one of those unique and magical places where everybody is welcome. it doesn’t matter which religion, culture or country you come from, it’s always open. Stepping inside is like travelling in time and finding yourself a fairytale.

Luckily for me, everything in my project was directly connected to my training as a designer, so I had the opportunity to improve some skills I already had, but also to learn many new things, which are really interesting for my profession. Taking photos, designing intricate patterns, learning calligraphy, and how to make handcrafted paper are just a few examples.

However, if I had to highlight something, it would be the cozy and fun ambiance. Over time you just become a part of the family and when you have to leave, you leave a place you will always go back to.

Raquel Calaco Martín

September 2015 to September 2016

I came to the Ukrainian Cultural Center as a volunteer looking forward to a year of working with my hands. I never imagined I would do so much more than that and enjoy myself to the extent that I would decide to stay.

During my year with EVS, I took up a variety of tasks. I led paper making workshops and tours of the Center. I helped with preparing different events and then happily joined in. I worked as a photographer and graphic designer. One of the projects I took part in was creating the 35 handmade books of The Ark of Unique Cultures: The Hutsuls. I even presented one of the copies to the Czech National Library later on.

My favorite part of the day was undeniably lunch, which I would often prepare. Meeting at one table and sharing a meal that was made even more tasty mostly thanks to the accompanying conversation and laughter. It was a time halfway through our work day to relax and enjoy one another’s company. My colleagues gradually became my close friends and created what the Ukrainian Cultural Center means to me: a place where everybody is welcome if they are eager to find beauty and joy in simple things.

Veronika Váňová

August 2014 to Aug 2015

The first time I stepped into the Ukrainian Cultural Center, I entered another world! The medieval architecture of the Center has created a labyrinth of corridors and stairs. I needed one month to finally understand which room was connected to which other one. I kept getting lost in the beginning, but that’s normal, and I wasn’t surprised. Very quickly I felt like I was part of a family (as I was told would happen to me when I arrived). And soon I felt as if I was at home. Every day was rocked by Ukrainian, Russian, Estonian, English, French, and occasionally even Spanish speech. While it was a very hard to learn one specific language, at least I trained my ear to hear the differences between a multitude of languages …

The Ukrainian Cultural Center is a place which offers you a lot of different possibilities. You can try a lot of new things, you can propose any idea, and — even as a volunteer, the staff asks you for your opinion on projects. From the beginning, you are a part of the team. It is a place where you have the possibility to improve your ability to adapt quickly as anything can happen at any time of the day. Even the last thing you would dare to imagine! You have to react quickly and always be ready to adapt yourself to what is happening!

While I was there, I learned a lot about the history and culture of North-Eastern Europe and about myself. As a volunteer I learned about my profession as a ceramist. I even had ceramic orders from the Center. At first, I didn’t think I would be able to make what they asked me to do, but being a volunteer, I wasn’t under so much pressure as I would’ve been anywhere else. And I was really glad to know a skill which could help them and which they needed.

Along the way, I made several religious ceramic compositions for the Center. I also helped with their paper making workshops for different schools and with different events. I also made some illuminations, guided tours, picked plants, and dried them out to later put them into handmade paper. This volunteer experience gave me the possibility to meet a lot of interesting people, and put me in touch with the greater artistic field. Thanks to my experience, I had the great chance to continue working in this place for one more year.

Sarah Lebot-Toledo

September 2013 to April 2014

Our Friends

We are very pleased to have such good friends who have lent a hand and helped create the Centre and its courtyard over the years. You may have already read about many of them in our blog posts but we would like to mention them again. Big heartfelt thanks!

Working with Anatoli Ljutjuk, I lived the Chinese proverb: When the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.

I started working at the UKK back in February 2012. A friend of mine, who was working at the UKK at the time, invited me to meet Anatoli. This meeting — during a very dark, cold, and mysterious February — was both inspiring and productive. As my friend could no longer work at the UKK, I started helping Anatoli and working at the Center. The projects we worked on together were important and had a tremendous positive impact on a lot of good people. Each of these projects was given a bold name: Together (Koos), Our Homeland (Meie Kodumaa), and Integration (Lõimumine).

Integration was the biggest project I worked on as a coordinator. Besides all the organizational work involved, I also traveled with Anatoli to Tartu, Põlva, Narva, and Jõhvi as part of the project to help him with his entertaining performances of his Mechanical Toy Theater encouraging integration.

The topics and issues I worked on at the UKK were very different. Every day was a mixture of reality and theater, of organizational details and creative energy. I loved that each of my working days was a mixture of all of that. Just to give you one example, I could be writing a long and important report for the Integration Foundation in the morning and then a few hours later Anatoli, Nestor, and I were driving out to the countryside to pick up a few live chickens for the kitchen garden in St. Hildegard’s Courtyard​.

Kaie Olmre

Longtime Friend

Like many long-term friends of the Center, it was my first meeting with Anatoli that remains most clearly fixed in my mind. I was walking around Old Town with a group of friends and we ended up on Laboratooriumi Street. A member of our group – who happened to have a historical bent – suddenly mentioned that he knew of a fascinating place on this very street, which most people hadn’t heard of, and which was the work of a single artist. So, we decided to ring the doorbell at no. 22 Laboratooriumi. Someone buzzed us in. We waited for a time in the Center’s courtyard and it seemed like no one was there. The Center felt empty. We were impressed by how easily we had gotten in and how we were left so peacefully on our own.

We started to leave when suddenly Anatoli – an older man with a beard – appeared. He interrupted his lunch break – which he had been taking in his chamber above the Scriptorium – and went on to give us a two hour excursion of the Center. Moving up and down the spiral staircases from one workshop to another, we also met with Tamara, the concealed door opener. She also does many different things and is – at least in my opinion – an essential part of the Center. She always works quietly in the background, knows something about everything, and provides solid support for Anatoli in all his many daily activities.

Anatoli’s enthusiasm at showing us his small world back in 2007 was extraordinary. Behind each door, within each cabinet, or inside each drawer, there was some kind of unusual invention or soaring idea on which he was working at the time.

After that, I started to go to the Center regularly, first helping out as a volunteer at the Saturday School. Later, I became a “developer” of Anatoli’s magnificent ideas, working on various different projects. This included writing grant applications as well as translating Anatoli’s colorful plans into a language that others might also understand.

What amazed me most right from the start was Anatoli’s ability to inspire everyone around him to believe in an idea and then to help everyone develop the belief that together we can make it happen. I also believe – and I’m not alone in thinking so as I know many others who think the same way – that Anatoli is a great example of how to live according to ones principles and words. For me, this was – and has become – extremely valuable and has ended up having a great deal of influence on a number of choices I’ve made in my personal life.

Mari Köhler (Tamm)

Longtime Friend

After I had started working at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, one of my friends reminded me that I had once stood in front of the closed gate of the Center several years earlier on one of my discovery walks around Tallinn’s Old Town. At the time, I had said that I did not know what was behind this door, but that I felt that it was one of the most important places in Old Town.

Later, after the gates had opened up in front of me and I had been working in the Ukrainian Cultural Center for some time, I then came to understand one summer evening that I had managed to restore the lost world of my childhood.

A place where there is space for big dreams.
A place where there is room to grow and develop.
A place where soaring ideas come together with the power to fulfill them.

Since that summer, the Ukrainian Cultural Center has been one of my homes, just as I believe it is a home for many more people around the world.

I believe that once it became home, then the Ukrainian Cultural Center is now a place I will never really leave. After all, you leave home only so that you will be able to come back again.

Eve Ormisson

Longtime Friend

A place where you can talk without talking. A place where the saying “once a friend, always a friend” holds true.
Marge Laast

Longtime Friend

P.S We have many more friends and the list below is constantly growing…

Maria Tšerepahha, Lilianna Samuliak, Bogdan Tšerepahha, Igor Svõrõda, Nadiia Koroljuk, Lilia Ivantšenko, Lilia ja Bogdan Tšekalski, Olha Lõtvõn, Mõkola Berestjuk, Volodõmõr Didar, Sergii Zubkov, Dmõtro Iljušõn, Mara Ljutjuk, vend Serafim ning vend Mikael, Julia Gulõk, Denis Strašnõj, Uliana Osovska, Pavlo Prõimõtš, Irõna Ukhankina, Yulia Golovtšõn, Ksenia Drozd, Anu Karjaste, Timo Maran, Erki Vaikre, Pille Kivihall, Tiina Kull,Taivo Niitvägi, Doris Kareva, Veronika Kivisilla, Tiit Aleksejev, Ülo Pikkov…

Our Contact Information

NGO Ukrainian Cultural Center
Laboratooriumi 22
10133 Tallinn

Email: ukktallinn@gmail.com
Phone: +372 5650 2572