TRURO – Luba and Alex Martynenko settle into their cozy living room and smile. They are keenly aware that they are safe and in an area that respects their thoughts and best wishes.
The Martynenkos are originally from Ukraine but moved to Truro seven years ago. Although they loved their home land dearly and were proud of the “civic, peaceful nation,” said Alex, a corrupt government and threat of violence led to them choosing to walk away from their life and extended families, who are still in Ukraine.
“There were bribes and overuse of government positions and conflict of interest. You couldn’t do anything about it because the power of the government was supported by police and sometimes the army,” said Alex.
Alex said he witnessed “corruption growing” and it affected his family personally.
“We both worked six months without pay because wages were not given to the people … so much corruption,” he said.
Alex, 54, is a university professor in engineering and has plenty of experience with farming and Luba, 40, is a neurologist.
“Wages are not fair there and taxes are so high,” said Luba, adding it was difficult to leave their country in search of a better life.
“It’s the land we were born in. We know every street there and the people there. It was difficult to leave.”
Since arriving in Truro, Alex and Luba, and their one-year-old and five-year-old sons, say they “feel safe in all areas” of life and have come to view Truro as their home as well.
Alex is working in the engineering department at the Dalhousie Agricultural campus in Bible Hill and Luba is a neurologist who has to re-apply for her residency and get a Canadian license before practicing locally.
They are also volunteering in the community. Luba volunteers at nursing homes and Alex shares his experience with farmers and
“teach(s) kids (skills) how to survive” on the land.
However, the family continues to pay close attention to the happenings in the Ukraine.
“There’s a lot of misinformation … people think there is civil war there and Ukraine wants to divide. Ukraine is all about unity and co-operation is most important,” said Alex.
He said “$60 billion has been stolen by government in three years and Ukraine is $50 billion in debt.” This past week, parliament
“decided the president had to go” and removed Viktor Yanukovych from the top position. A new president will be chosen in late May.
“In a couple of days parliament did a lot of good things,” said Alex, and with those changes, “the corrupt people in government fled.”
The Martynenkos admit the situation is still of concern.
“We are still nervous because the government released criminals from prison, giving complete power to fight the people, because the government knew they were being taken down. The criminals are in hiding,” explained Alex.
Luba hopes people will take the time to learn about the situation in Ukraine. She wants people to know the good in that land and said it’s important to educate the population, especially when immigrants from Ukraine are now Truro residents.