Wayne is in Belarus along with Mark Messier for the KHL All Star.
January 30, 2010. Minsk, Belarus. At the first dropping of the puck for All Stars: Alexei Yashin, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Alexander Medvedev and Jaromir Jagr (left to right). Photo AFP
Here's KP.ru (Komsomolskaya Pravda) interview with Wayne Grezky:
The famous Canadian hockey player arrived to Minsk for the All Stars KHL game, Gretzky was invited as an honored guest. In Belarus the legendary Canadian is considered as their man, because his grandfather Terenty lived in the village of Brest region, and went off to Canada to work in 20-ties, leaving his wife and children here. There, over the ocean, he married for a second time and in 1961 he became the grandfather of Wayne.
And in the Belarusian city Svisloch lives Galina Soldatenkova, she is also the granddaughter of Terenty Gretzky. But she is the daughter of Terenty's son from his first marriage. They never met, but the photographs show the overall breed.
Galina Soldatenkova. She and Wayne have the same grandfather. Photo: Olesya GANEVICH
On the eve of Gretzky's arrival to Minsk we asked Galina if Wayne had called her.
"No, he didn't," said Galina, "maybe he doesn't even know about us. But if he'll come, I'll give him our home sausage and will bake him a cake."
The legendary Canadian hockey player Wayne Gretzky with KP's newspaper in Minsk. Photo: Olesya GANEVICH
When Wayne arrived to Minsk, we met with him in the lobby of the hotel "Europe" and the first thing we asked was, "Wayne, do you know about your distant relatives who live in Belarus? Here's your sister, with whom you are bound by a common grandfather," we showed the photo of Galina.
"Really? You're not joking, are you?" It was clear that Wayne knows about his distant Belarusian roots, but without much detail. "Is she is still alive?" asked Wayne.
"Yes, and she is about the same age as you," we opened a newspaper and showed an old photo of Galina with her father Zinovy, who is Gretzky's uncle.
"I know that my father's brother was living here," Wayne perked up, looking at the photos. He turned the page and looked at Saratov's blonde, who was in the contest for Miss KP. "And is she my cousin too?"
"What a pity!" said Wayne.
Galina still hopes that Gretzky will call her.
And what will you ask him?
Galina: "I would like to learn how my grandfather lived in Canada. Maybe he'll show his pictures."