“Get ready for something to happen to both of them.”

Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, and Vladimir Klitschko, a few days ago in the Ukrainian capital. Her longtime manager tells Watson about the brothers’ fight for their country. Photo: www.imago-images.de / imago

Interview

Sophia Sirman

Tatiana Kell organized boxing matches for the Klitschko brothers for years, and is still working with Vladimir today. Now the brothers are fighting a very different battle – In defense of Ukraine against Russia’s attack. As the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko plays an important role here, as his younger brother Vladimir organizes assistance to the local population and organizes solidarity campaigns around the world.

And now Tatjana Kyle is on her side.

Instead of calling the organizers or arranging seats, as it used to, it organizes large-scale aid shipments to Ukraine with “#WeAreAllUkrainians”.

Watson met Tatjana Kell at the “Green Actors Lounge” in Berlin. In the interview, she talks about how she supports Klitschkos from Germany and how she copes with the huge psychological pressure.

Together with the Klitschko brothers, Tatiana Kell organizes aid supplies to Ukraine with #WeAreAllUkrainians.

Together with the Klitschko brothers, Tatiana Kell organizes aid supplies to Ukraine with #WeAreAllUkrainians. Photo: Mirko Hahnemann

Watson: Tatjana, how does it feel that your old business partners, Vitaliy and Vladimir Klitschko, are in a war zone?

Tatiana Kell: I already know the danger from sports, and boxing is also dangerous. There was always the possibility that something might happen. The difference now is this extreme frontier of war, and aggression from the outside. Ukraine, Vitaly and Vladimir did not start the war, but they know that they are role models for the whole nation, along with Zelensky. I think this is very cool and deserves support. And yes, I’ve gone through all the scenarios. In the worst case, there is all we can and should think about. We’re ready for something to happen to them. But there are many other Ukrainians who need our help.

How do you feel when you haven’t heard from either of them in a while?

That was extreme for the first two weeks. After that it went down a little, because we humans are also used to difficult situations. On the other hand, attacks around Kyiv decreased, although some continued. This means that only fear is different. Now the fear is more than what is happening in the south or in the east and the number of people who die there. We’re not seeing any pictures at the moment, so it must be really bad.

Where do the Klitschks derive their power?

It is the solidarity that they receive above all from society. Perhaps it is not as political as we would like or would like. But socially and economically, it’s incredibly impressive what’s going on and how the two are perceived for what they do. Of course this gives a lot of power.

What did you talk about in your last phone call with Vladimir?

We talked about a procedure we just started. The aim is to compile an aid package for young mothers and their premature babies. This is to provide mothers with everything they need and to give them the opportunity to create an environment in which they feel reasonably safe for the first 10 days. For me, solidarity now means giving these women in particular the courage to carry on and giving them a little bit of a normalcy that they are not allowed to experience in the first few days after giving birth.

How do you reach out to local people in need? And how do you get things to where you need them?

First of all, we had to find out, to stay by the example of mothers, what things are needed there now? We know that from very committed midwives, for example, and then we put these things together. There is almost a full moving box for every mother and child. And there are all the products we need for these ten days. Always provided that there are no diseases or other complications.

Where do you get supplies from then?

We contacted the pharmacy chain DM, who immediately agreed to support the campaign with product donations of up to 1 million euros. These parcels are packed every now and then and after 2-3 weeks they will be brought by train and distributed as needed. In Ukraine, 10,000 babies are born prematurely every month.

Is your organization also trying to evacuate people from areas?

No, we do not bring them from Ukraine itself, we decided to correct the situation in Berlin first of all. We try to find hotels or accommodations in Germany that can accommodate at least 100 people for a longer period of time. Then we take them straight there for full support.

Has it become easier or more difficult to transport relief supplies to Ukraine?

We keep adjusting our processes and it works until someone bombs the track. This happens every now and then. But we’re very flexible because we have multiple methods that we can use.

“If I don’t do it, maybe no one else will be able to do it.”

How has your job as a manager helped you organize the delivery of relief supplies?

I have always been good at organizing and building partnerships. So I am able to solve problems, I can tell. I’m very good at quickly rethinking if a plan doesn’t work out. I won’t give up so easily.

What about your mental stress? Where do you get the strength to work a lot?

Unlike regular work, which I was so passionate about, I only see it as a matter of life and death. Also: this trumpet, which we are currently forming through the direct line of Vladimir Klitschko, has no one else. This means that if I don’t do it, most likely no one else will be able to do it. It would be very exciting for me not to be able to help these people. And when you see what you can impart, you do everything you can. In the meantime, I am of course also looking for sponsorship. The more it gets to me, I look for an exchange, and I do it professionally.

“Refugees who later arrived are in dire need of psychological care.”

How did this exchange help you?

Everyone who does something new has to deal with a lot. But many things are so new that I can’t handle them on my own. I’m not above treating things that are usually frowned upon or untreated. Of course I get help and can only recommend it to anyone else.

Then it is also possible that the Ukrainians who fled.

Yes, we see that now too. The refugees, those seeking help, who came in the first two or three weeks, were not too nervous. Those who arrived later urgently need psychological support because they have been in a war zone for so long and have suffered so much that they are no longer able to cope on their own. It’s good to know that psychological support helps.

How can I support you?

Donations always help. But it is important now first of all to take a stand and continue to talk about the war and that what is happening there is not okay.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock travels to Kyiv and learns about the atrocities committed in the suburb of Bucha. There is a wonderful sentence: “We can be the victims.” She wants the perpetrators to be held accountable—and in doing so creates a rapprochement between us and those affected that she may not have planned at all.

“Je suis Charlie”, “Je suis Paris”, “Je suis Orlando”. With these sentences, from 2015 onwards, we have created around the world an intimate relationship, a closeness between us and the victims of atrocities. We showed our solidarity. Shocked by these attacks. Because they were not attacks on individuals or organizations: they were attacks on democracy, on the Western world, on our morals – on us.

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