Hayden Panettiere on Ukraine crisis: ‘I completely agree with what Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are fighting for. We want justice and democracy’

The Hollywood actress - and fiancée of Wladimir Klitschko - pledges her support for president Yanukovych's opposition

Jenn Selby
Sunday 02 March 2014 01:01

Hayden Panettiere has pledged her support for "justice and democracy" for Ukrainian nationals as the civil crisis in the country continues to deepen.

The Hollywood actress and long-time partner of Wladimir Klitschko (the boxer brother of Vitali Klitscho) has been seen attending political rallies in Ukraine, as she champions change following the ousting of president Yanukovych.

"I spend a lot of time in Ukraine and I completely agree with what Wladimir and Vitali are fighting for,"she tells Cosmopolitan magazine in an exclusive new interview.

"We want justice and democracy for Ukrainians."

Her support comes as opposition leader Vitali Klitschko – Panettiere’s soon-to-be brother-in-law – has announced he will run for the presidency in the Ukraine elections.

The Ukrainian Central Election Commission posted a calendar online early today, which gives candidates until 4 April to register for the May elections.

According to AFP, the opposition leader and former heavyweight boxing champion told journalists in parliament: "I will be on the ballot."

But Vitali's road to political success will be far from smooth. Yanukovych gave a defiant press conference from the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Friday, where he is currently under the protection of the Russian government, declaring that he intends to “fight for the future of Ukraine” against “those who try to occupy through fear and terror”.

"Nobody overthrew me," he told the press conference. "I was forced to leave Ukraine under a threat to my life and to the lives of my loved ones."

Elsewhere in the interview, the Heroes star describes her relationship with Wladimir Klitschko, and what had attracted her to the boxer (who towers above her at 6ft6” to her 5ft1”) in the first place.

"You could be the most beautiful man on the planet, but if you have nothing to back that up then there is nothing sexy about you. I’ve met guys and gone from, ‘You’re beautiful,’ to, ‘I could not be less attracted to you if I tried’.

"I want to be with somebody who opens my eyes to the world and helps me to become a better person in every way. Wladimir is not just a boxer; he’s smart [he has a PhD in philosophy and sports science] and caring. It’s been a ride!"

However, it wasn’t love at first sight:

"We were friends for a year first. On paper, a relationship between the two of us looked crazy. From where we live to where we come from, the differences in our lives are fairly big. On the surface, everything about us is unalike.

"But at our core, our morals and goals in life are very similar, so our differences become a lot less terrifying… I’m in awe of what he does and who he is – that’s a very strong feeling. He doesn’t let me get away with things; he has the patience of a saint, but he is definitely no shrinking violet."

The full interview appears in the April issue of Cosmopolitan, on sale 4 March. The issue available in digital edition on Apple Newsstand. For further exclusive content, please go to www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/hayden

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