FOCUS Online meets Vitali Klitschko in Davos. On the fringes of the World Economic Forum, Kiev’s mayor is campaigning for more international support for Ukraine. Vitali and his brother Wladimir are currently fighting the toughest fight of their lives. And the most painful.
Creaking floorboards, wood-panelled walls, leftover Advent decorations next to the tables. The stuffy, cozy atmosphere in the hotel “Zur alten Post”, in a backyard away from the busy promenade of the fashionable ski resort of Davos, does not suit the man who holds court for media representatives from all over the world. Vitali Klitschko, ex-world boxing champion, Kiev’s mayor and now a key representative of his war-torn country.
The two-meter man is sitting at a wooden table in the otherwise empty restaurant room of the small two-star hotel. His hands folded, he talks about why he’s here: He wants to get as much support for his country as possible, to strengthen the broad alliance in the fight against the Russian aggressor Putin and his army. To this end, Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir appear in various panel discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos and meet with anyone from whom they hope to get help.
The brothers are in Davos for three days, then they return to Kyiv, back to the war. There, as Vitali Klitschko says in an interview with FOCUS Online, he feels much more comfortable than in the luxurious mountain resort in the Swiss Alps. In Kyiv he is closer to his people who are suffering from the war. In Kyiv he has a feeling of control.
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One thing is clear, even though he and his brother are world-famous celebrities and former world-class athletes: the Klitschkos have – involuntarily – found their way into the fight of their lives since the beginning of the war. Mayor Vitali has become one of his country’s most important ambassadors abroad. At home he appears to have become a resolute and empathetic leader, while abroad he is a tireless networker and admonisher, leveraging his prominence for his hard-hit country.
But he and his brother are not callous PR machines. Vitali Klitschko, it becomes clear in every appearance and in every interview, suffers with his compatriots. He almost had to cry, which certainly doesn’t offend this strong man, when he talked about the moment that moved him the most since the beginning of the war.
On a day shortly after the Russian invasion, he encouraged those seeking protection in a train station in Kyiv. Among them was a little boy. He told him that his parents would be back soon. A supervisor then said to him: The parents are dead. The boy doesn’t know that. “That was difficult,” says Klitschko, closing his eyes and swallowing, visibly moved.
Anyone who hears him speak like this gets the impression that his dramatic appeals to the world are not just empty phrases. When he says, for example, that his country is paying the greatest price of all in this war, namely human life. When he and his brother campaign to stop all trade with Russia. Because every penny that goes to Russia is pumped into Putin’s army. Therefore, according to Vitali Klitschko, every businessman must be clear: “This is bloody money”.
Klitschko avoids direct criticism of Germany, his second home, where he and his brother still have so many fans. But he makes it quite clear that the aid for his country is still not enough for him, that he would like more weapons and, above all, an even tougher approach to Putin. He doesn’t do this in such a hurtful and reproachful way as the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, does. But his messages are clear: “War has a price. The war is detrimental to the economy, to prosperity. But for peace we have to pay a common price. Peace and human life is the most important value.”
A short time later he gets up, says goodbye politely and leaves the hotel with his small entourage. The world is waiting for Vitali Klitschko. The ex-boxer has to fight again.