A year before the elections of the president of Ukraine a new public figure showed up at the scene. Even though she denies the launch of her public activity she won’t resist it. Her name is Elena Franchuk she is the daughter of the president of Ukraine and the wife of Viktor Pinchuk.
For 9 years of her father governing she wasn’t very active in social activity. The country knew nothing about her political influence and minimum about her private life.
Her first husband was Igor Franchuk the son of the Crimea prime-minister. They have a son Roman. Then they divorced. Later she married to Viktor Pinchuk the president of “Interpipe” corporation and the greatest Ukrainian oligarch. They married in 2002 and in a year she gave birth to the daughter. Furthermore, Elena Franchuk is marketing director of Kyivstar Telecommunication Company. That’s all we knew.
On behalf of her name a new Foundation to fight HIV/AIDS is establishing now. The Foundation first public project is to raise funds for reconstruction of Kiev’s “Beryozka” Orphanage, the home for HIV-positive kids. On December 12th in Kiev the charitable concert of American singer Jessi Norman and the famous conductor Vladimir Spivakov, the good friend and the witness on Elena and Viktor wedding, will take place.
The success of campaign is guaranteed by Elena's status as the daughter of the President and the wife of the person whose capital estimated in 1,5 billion dollars (that is 12th place among the richest people of the Eastern Europe according to the “Forbes” magazine and 146 in “EuroBusiness” rating among the European capitalists).
Elena admits that she is going to use her family links as it helps to attract additional attention to the project. Moreover, Pinchuk became the first donor of the Foundation. At the same time Elena promises not to be engaged in top-level lobbying in order to attract investments to the Foundation.
Promoting projects is Elena’s specialization. She is skilled in advertising that resulted in leadership of “Kyivstar” among other mobile connection providers.
The reasons of setting up of Elena Franchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation are different but among them are self-realization and desire to start something on her own, to cease being “the daughter of the president”. Another reason is perhaps Leonid Kuchma leaving the post of the President. Nobody knows what the situation in Ukraine will be in a year. To go public is better for self-defense.
The assumptions of the Foundation participating in any political campaigns, Elena Franchuk promises to even these by showing a transparent activity results.
It was a real surprise for “Ukrainskaya pravda” newspaper that Elena Franchuk agreed to answer a couple of questions about her new project.
Why did you decide to create the Foundation to fight HIV/AIDS? As far as we concerned you were engaged in mobile connection business before. It means that it has nothing to do with your previous activity…
I saw the statistics. It just happened: some materials in the newspapers, the meetings with people who are already engaged in this sphere of activity. As it was mentioned I saw the statistic data concerning the increase of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. When I saw these figures and understood that it was real I was scared. I was scared of people knew nothing about the problem. I was the same before I saw the statistics. I must admit I encounter the figures by accident. That’s the reason I decided to help, because I was frightened of what could happen. By 2010 the number of HIV-infected people in Ukraine will increase to 1,5 millions and if we do nothing there will be no chances to stop the epidemic escalation. The situation with HIV/AIDS will be similar to Africa. Most European countries have already passed through the period we are now for about 10 years ago. When this started they launched huge informational campaigns, advocacy as well. They succeeded in fighting HIV/AIDS. Now we have the chance to do so or not. I realized that I could invest myself in fighting HIV/AIDS. As you mentioned I worked in “Kyivstar” company as the marketing director. In other words advertising, communications are what I can do the best. The public informational campaign is exactly what we need to fight HIV/AIDS. I understood that I was able to create a publicity campaign focused on HIV/AIDS. First of all we need to draw public attention to this problem and then we need to explain the reasons of doing so. People won’t ask: “Why should I concern?” unless they are interested. I think people should mind the risk when they do something. That was my first reasons. Later on I became more concerned, I learned a lot of new things about HIV/AIDS. I dipped into this subject. I found out about ARV-treatment. If HIV-positive people take medicines it reduces risks of HIV transmission and so on. At first I wished to launch a wide informational campaign. I understood that my potential and my experience in marketing and advertising would help me in realization of the campaign. I knew that I had media-resource I could rely on. That is to say I could broadcast PSAs in media.
What media-resource do you mean you can rely on?
I have very good relations with shareholders of different media companies. I may say we are friends. Foremost, we launch an advertising campaign on TV, then in press and outdoor. It won’t be big-boards but a small ad campaign. Our targeted groups are young people at the age of 14-22. This advertising campaign is mainly aimed at them. We are going to place outdoor advertising in campus and education institutions. In December we plan to arrange the concert of word known celebrities in order to attract the attention of the public and elite to this problem. The funds raised from the concert we transfer to the Kiev’s Beryozka Orphanage. This is the only Orphanage in Kiev where HIV-positive kids live. There are only few kids there because HIV/AIDS epidemic situation in Kiev is better compared to other Ukrainian cities. The first place is Donetsk, then Dnipropetrovs’k, Odessa, Nikolaev, Crimea. In other words, Kiev is far away from them despite it is the biggest city of Ukraine. A lot of international companies have their business here, that’s why the situation is much better. Obviously the level of life is higher and this is very important as well. As it was mentioned we will transfer the funds raised from the concert to the Kiev’s Orphanage where 1 kid has AIDS, 8 are HIV-positive and 30 were delivered by HIV-positive mothers. They are too small to diagnose if they are HIV-infected or not. As far as the concert take place in Kiev we decided to transfer the money to Kiev’s Beryozka Orphanage.
As far as I understood this is going to be the Foundation that will provide funds for orphans and different campaigns to fight HIV/AIDS?
Yes it is. Look, this is the Foundation of my own. I’m the founder. My husband Viktor is a co-founder. I will run the funds of the Foundation. We have been accumulating financial resources that haven’t been attracted. The Foundation was set up with Viktor support and only with private funds. Concert is the first fundraising activity. We have already received some. The funds will be transferred to the Orphanage. It worth mentioning that we won’t transfer money we will provide them with things they need. For today they don’t need drugs as they are supplied by the government. But they need other things and according to the list we will supply them.
Have you ever thought that a lot of people will invest in the Foundation having known you are the daughter of the president?
Frankly speaking I did. That’s the reason I do this. I understand that it’s a big advantage. A lot of people will do so because of my status. Isn’t this bad? I think this is a great idea to provide a public good by using your social status.
Don’t you think that someone will count on support of the President in return?
You know, I’m not going….Charity is a voluntary deed. If you want to help kids and feel you can do it, do it because I give you this opportunity. But I won’t help someone to solve their problems on my expense.
The first response for the project was that you were to start your own public career even the political one. Is that true?
Who told that?
Well, people think so.
And I’m going to be the only one candidate on the elections? (Laughing). I’m not going to start either public or political career. Thanks God everything is fine in my private life. I thank God all the time for what I have, especially for my family, my wonderful children, and my husband. I do appreciate this. My daughter is only 5 month. That is why I want and I will spend more time with my family. I’m not planning to become a public figure in the nearest future. To tell you the truth, I don’t fell comfortable when people came to me during the presentations, introducing themselves, inviting me to participate in the events, conferences concerning HIV/AIDS. I excuse and refuse. I’m trying to explain that now both of my kids caught flu. On one hand I don’t want to offend them, don’t want anybody thinking that I ignore these events. On the other hand I’m ready to contribute in the fight against HIV/AIDS but without any harm to my family.
Have you discussed this step with your father?
I haven’t. I made that decision on my own. I just informed my parents that I was going to devote myself to this. I realized that it shouldn’t cause any negative responses. Generally, I’m always trying to do nothing that is bad or wrong.
Did your parents tell you something?
Well, they said… My mother said: “You are a good person; you will do good things.” Father told me the same.
In press-release distributed on your behalf stipulated that support and assistance to the project was made by your husband Viktor Pinchuk. What does it mean?
It was the financial support.
What was the first contribution fee?
It’s not a secret. On the first stage we invested more than 200 000 hryvnas within 1,5 months. We are planning to invest money till the end of the year. Next year we are planning the budget of about 1 million hryvnas. The matter is that project is just taking the start and it’s difficult to estimate its scale. This is the approximate figure. By the end of the year I will print the financial statement where everybody can see the invested funds, the raised funds and the expenses.
Isn’t this a public activity?
No it is not. I’m trying to be sincere. I don’t want to hide anything. I also don’t want to hear any gossips about the Foundation activity. The Foundation and money is very serious business. I appreciate my reputation and my name. That is why I don’t want anybody to tell bad things about us. I repeat that I’m not hiding anything, I’m open. I don’t think this is a public activity. Let’s name it an informational statement. If any questions arise: “Where is the money?”. Here is the statement. “Where have you been from Thursday to Friday? Look, here is the statement. “, - Zhvanetsky says.
Will you quit “Kyivstar” or you stay?
I’m on maternity leave now. I have the right to stay on vacation for 3 years. I keep in constant touch with “Kyivstar” on the phone. I’m out of the office now but I’m always discussing some business issues with “Kyivstar” top-managers on the phone. I didn’t think of leaving “Kyivstar” yet. Maybe I do this because the Foundation would take a lot of time and efforts but I’m not sure. When I set up the Foundation I realized that it was very time-consuming. We’ll see.
You’ve mentioned that you set up the Foundation together with your husband. Does it mean that you invest your own money? Is it true that you are the shareholder of “Kyivstar” company?
We invested that Viktor legally earned as my husband. I don’t possess any shares of “Kyivstar” and there is no “Kyivstar” money invested in the Foundation. “Kyivstar” company doesn’t participate in this project. I’m not sure if it is a good idea to involve “Kyivstar” company to the project. I’m afraid of any accuses in corruption.
You will see that after the interview “Kyivstar” will offer you the cooperation.
I won’t be so sure. A large amount of shares of “Kyivstar” company belongs to Norvey Company and the top-manager is from Norvey as well. That’s why I’m not so sure of it.