I was born and growing up in Ukraine at a time when it was a battleground between communism and democracy, in the country where my ancestry were subjected to persecution just because they belonged to nobility. My personal experience of this conflict, including poverty, struggling and intolerance — as well as a personal fascination with philosophy shaped my thinking in later years and motivated me to start my philanthropy. I have been active as a philanthropist since 2013, when I began providing funds to help women in Africa to attend Universities and start own business. In 2016 I joined Cherie Blair Foundation for women, where I am working to promote gender equity, human rights, transparency and empower women.
I occupy an exceptional position. My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people. This obliges me to take stands on controversial issues when others cannot, and taking such positions has itself been a source of satisfaction. In short, my philanthropy has made me happy. What more could one ask for? I do not feel, however, that I have any business imposing my choices on others.
I have made it a principle to pursue my self-interest in my business, subject to legal and ethical limitations, and to be guided by the public interest as a public intellectual and philanthropist. If the two are in conflict, the public interest ought to prevail. I do not hesitate to advocate policies that are in conflict with my business interests. I firmly believe that our democracy would function better if more people adopted this principle. And if they care about a well-functioning democracy, they ought to abide by this principle even if others do not. Just a small number of public-spirited figures could make a big difference.