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Hryhoriy Kozlovskyy:
“I will build a soccer academy, where children will be brought up as my own.”

A successful restaurateur, businessman and deputy of the City Council, and for the family – a loving and caring father. What really lives a controversial personality, sharp on words and emotional Hryhoriy Kozlovskyy? In an exclusive interview with RIA-Lviv magazine he shared his biggest dream, told about his life priorities and revealed the secrets of his own establishments.

Hryhoriy, each of your restaurants is a new idea, embodied in the smallest detail of the interior. How do you choose the highlight of each institution?
A good mood, new emotions and a circle of communication work wonders. Ideas come while traveling. When I see something interesting abroad, I want to implement it in Lviv. For example, in the lobby of Grand Hotel, you’ll see 180 moving lights – I saw that in Singapore. I’ve seen a flower restaurant in France, an unusual piano – in London, I’ve tasted fine beer in Germany. Pieces of emotions I implemented in Lviv – so that the residents of Lviv could see, feel and experience it. It often happens, we do even better than what I’ve seen (laughs – D.K.).

How do you choose your business partners?
Business partners are like relatives. If you’re lucky with them, you get pleasure from work and feel comfortable. Fate has given me good partners who have really become relatives – the ones I can trust.

In everyday life you are quite an emotional person. How do you act in business more often: according to a clear-cut calculation or the call of your heart?
There are both emotional actions, and calculated on many steps ahead. Everything depends on a situation, everything happens, but usually I find it difficult to decide on spontaneous decisions. I’m a person who’s not so much emotional as outspoken. I’ve learned to tell people what I think of them to their eyes. All my life I’ve been told that “a soft calf sucks two cows”. I answered: I don’t want two, I want one, but my own.

Was buying a soccer club “Ruh” an emotional act or a calculated investment?
Soccer club is an invaluable thing, which I created from young players, not bought. There is no economic basis, but if you calculate the investment there is no logic. My investment is intuitive and multiplied by my love for my city.

You’re a successful restaurateur, a businessman. Why was there a need for politics?
I don’t consider myself a politician. I needed a way to help people in Vynnyky: to make the lives of children happier, to improve lighting, sewage systems and in general to increase the comfort of the residents. In a year and a half I managed to do a lot, but I don’t want to talk about it. It is better to ask the people for whom I work about the results of my work.

Deputy’s mandate harms business or helps development?
Definitely detrimental. There are people whose vocation is to engage in politics, and there are people who were born to do business. You cannot be a businessman and a doctor at the same time, or a businessman and a politician. For example, in America, they say that you can become a politician only after three generations: the first generation is made up of gangsters who make money; the second generation is made up of businessmen who say that their parents were gangsters; and only the third generation can raise politicians. If we consider the American practice, in about sixty years we will have really quality politicians. The apple should not be plucked before it is ripe. So it is with politics in Ukraine.

Do you have ambitions of a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada?
I don’t need it, I’m a businessman. I’ve never run for the post and I’ve never even suspected of it. However, if I wanted, I could realize such an ambition. As the saying goes, never say never.

Besides politics and business you do a lot of charity work, but you rarely speak about it. Apparently, you do good not for PR. So why do you do it?
I think when every person dies, God will only ask one question: “I gave you power, I gave you money, but what have you done for people?” I want to answer that because I understand: everything I have, God gave me, which means I have to spend it wisely. That’s my philosophy of life right now. It is not for nothing they say that people after forty are more attracted to God. I’ve found this out for myself.

How do you like to spend your free time?
Recently, I went to the Carpathian Mountains with my children, wife and granddaughter. When we are all together – it is the greatest grace. In three days I had the pleasure I haven’t had in a long time.

You travel a lot. What was your ideal trip?
Every trip is different and brings new positive excitement and feelings. I always go for the emotions and peace of mind. And the best, most desirable trip for me is the next one. I open new horizons. Obligatorily – with my family.

What does family mean to you?
For me, family is everything. My personal desires are always pushed to the back burner. After my divorce, my children stayed with me, so their happiness is my priority. Only when my daughter got married, my son got married, I allowed myself to arrange my own life as well. For my children, I am the person they love above all else, so I never put my own life interests above theirs.

What were you like as a child? What were the main qualities instilled by your parents?
They taught me to be sensitive, kind and religious. Life made me to be tough, but with faith and goodness in my heart. At school I got straight A’s, but I always had problems with discipline. Not because of deliberate mischief, it somehow happened (laughs – D.K.). For example, during 10 years of my study I broke 12 big windows in the school playing soccer. So when teachers saw a broken window, they had no doubt who did it. I was a mischievous little boy with a kind face and heart.

Was there a period in your life that made you look at certain things from a different angle?
My whole life is challenging, even though it may seem different on the outside. There have been hard times when things have been going downhill, and there have been times when almost everything has worked out. I always looked at life with optimism and faith in the future

Do you share an idea that you plan to implement in the near future?
One idea I dream about: I want to build a soccer academy, where I will bring up more than two hundred children as my own. In general, children are my “Achilles’ heel”. I imagine myself at an old age as a grandfather with a stick, walking barefoot on the field and teaching small children to play soccer. We already have a project that deals with the lives of underprivileged children. I don’t want to talk about it – it wouldn’t be charity, it would be PR. When you tear off a piece of your heart and give it to an outcast child, you experience incredible emotions. In fact, it’s impossible to describe and worth experiencing for everyone.

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