Olena Selenska (44) traveled to Switzerland at the beginning of the week for an appearance at the WEF.
Samuel Schumacherforeign reporter
Foreign visitors almost always travel to the freshly snow-covered Swiss Alps for relaxation. Not so Olena Zelenska (44), married to Volodymyr Zelenski (44) since 2003, First Lady of Ukraine since 2019, on a mission since February 24, 2022. The mission is simple in itself, but difficult: the world must not forget Ukraine. The West must not grow weary of war.
With exactly this message, the former screenwriter and studied architecture traveled to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos GR on Tuesday. “Please don’t stop your help! If you do that, then it was all in vain. You can’t stop fighting the fire when half the house is still on fire, »said Selenska late in the afternoon in the «House of Ukraine», one of the many Davos bars that were sold to companies during the WEF for good profit – or in this case to the Ukrainian foundation Victor Pinchuk Foundation.
Selenska companions maneuver SRF out of the room
Olena Selenska’s almost eleven months spent in the war are worth looking at. Her sinewy hands keep brushing the bleached hair away from her face, which looks as if it wants to burst into tears at any moment. But Selenska pulls herself together, as she has done in countless appearances at home and abroad since the brutal attack on her homeland.
Symbolic: For her visit to the “House of Ukraine”, Selenska wears a traditional white blouse with a black floral pattern on it. Hope for Ukraine has not died. But Selenska doesn’t want to paint a colorful future.
The large entourage of busy-looking assistants and fierce Davos bodyguards who hermetically seal off the 44-year-old make it clear how well clocked her mission at the WEF is. A team of two from SRF was even roughly pushed out of the room in the “House of Ukraine” when it approached the First Lady with his camera.
The First Lady’s Words of Admonition to the World’s Elite
Selenska’s day in Davos – at that time still in a serious brown business suit with a golden Ukraine brooch – started with an appearance on the largest stage of the WEF. “Look at this hall: everyone here has a lot of influence, that unites you,” she said. “But not everyone uses this influence to make a difference.”
In her speech, the wife of what is currently probably the most famous man in the world again warned of the catastrophic consequences that would mean if the world looked the other way. She spoke of a “second Chernobyl”, of the war that could soon rage beyond Ukraine’s borders, and of the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families whose sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters have already been killed. “If you look at the war in my homeland, look at it through the eyes of those whose lives the war has thrown into total chaos,” said Selenska.
Selenska criticizes Switzerland – at least indirectly
At a bilateral meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis (61) at noon, Selenska again emphasized the importance of Switzerland’s humanitarian aid. At this level, Switzerland will continue to “give everything”, Cassis emphasized afterwards and, when asked by Blick, said he had asked Ms. Selenska to wish her husband “a lot of strength and endurance”. But they didn’t talk about guns. Switzerland is sticking to its neutrality in this regard.
In view of the Russian crimes in Ukraine, however, that is exactly what nobody can afford, Selenska said in the afternoon in front of around a hundred spectators who literally stepped on their toes in the “House of Ukraine” in order to get as close as possible to the First Lady. “There can be no neutrality now. Not when children are killed.”
In the case of Ukraine there is a right side and a wrong side. “The right one wins so far. But we can’t take a break, »admonished Selenska. “And everyone has to make their own choice as to whether they’re on the right side or not.” A blunt message from the flowery-dressed visitor from Kyiv.