The Blast interviewed Igor Novikov, former advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to hear his unique perspective on the current crisis in Ukraine. Novikov, who has a degree in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, brings a unique set of technological, entrepreneurial, and policy perspectives to the dialogue of innovation in Eastern Europe.
In the sixth article in our series about Ukraine, Novikov discusses how celebrities can help Ukraine.
Igor Novikov Discusses The Celebrities That Have Reached Out To Support Ukraine
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“Many celebrities did,” he confirmed. “The first thing that comes to mind is Jennifer Aniston posted a really sweet message on Instagram for the women of Ukraine. Jimmy Fallon did it privately so I passed along a message from him to President Zelenskyy.”
“It wasn’t a public message but it was definitely a message of support at a very crucial moment,” he said. “And there are many stories like that but it’s not a question of who’s well-known here. If you can touch one person, it’s definitely worth it.”
“If somebody did it before and we appreciate it, do it again,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s only thirty seconds. I mean, Jared Leto’s done it, and I know Jared and he’s a really great guy and we really appreciate it… Elon Musk did it. Elon Musk is doing a h— of a lot for Ukraine. I mean, he’s helping to set up Starlink here, to help provide Internet connections that Russians cannot actually disrupt.”
“We are getting those messages of support but… I mean, I might be infantile and unrealistic here, but I want to build that constant tsunami of positivity that’s flowing. I mean, personally, let’s start with me. I’d love a message of support from Shinedown. They’re my favorite band or Henry Rollins. He’s a legend. He’s made me who I am.”
“The name in that sentence is different for everyone, and I just want to make sure that we cover as many Ukrainian fans as possible,” he added. “It could be Maroon 5. It could be Justin Bieber.”
Igor Novikov Is How ‘Jimmy Fallon Would Look If Russia Ever Attacked America’
Novikov also answered questions about the time he previously compared himself to Jimmy Fallon.
“What I said, I remember my sentence, I said, ‘I look the way Jimmy Fallon would look if Russia ever attacked America,’” he quipped.
When discussing how Jimmy Fallon’s private message came about, Novikov explained that he had previously made an appearance on Fallon’s show in May 2021. “I was in charge of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, so one of my duties as an advisor to the President of Ukraine was keeping Rudy Giuliani at a distance. So, you know, when the Rudy scandal happened, I was interviewed by NBC, by Andrea Mitchell, she flew to Kyiv in April or May 2021 and she did this really great interview.”
While they were taking some extra shots, she turned to Novikov and said, “You remind me of somebody.” He replied, “Let me guess. Jimmy Fallon.”
“I obviously know who Jimmy Fallon is and I even ran away from a crowd in New York while I was there. The crowd literally started chasing me outside of the studio,” he said, adding that it was, “Really funny.”
Three days after the interview, Jimmy Fallon played clips from the interview on his show, asking the audience, “Since when did I become a Ukrainian aid?”
“It was hilarious,” he recalled, adding that he almost took on a temporary hosting role in a Ukrainian version of The Tonight Show “just to screw with Jimmy.”
When he was doing recent interviews regarding the crisis in Ukraine with NBC, they mentioned Jimmy and that story and they said that Jimmy wants to reach out and if he would pass along a private video message of support, and he did.
“It was actually Jimmy. They didn’t have to deepfake and use me instead,” he joked.
Igor Novikov Explains Day-To-Day Living In Ukraine
“Believe it or not, two weeks ago, it was exactly like the United States,” he said. “We could get an espresso and we could go and hang out at a bar or go see a movie – the same ones you see in U.S. Same old COVID, everything exactly the same.”
“We’ve been living in this new reality for exactly two weeks now,” he added. “My typical morning: I do get coffee. I am half made of caffeine so if Russia wanted to torture me, they’d have to take my coffee away.”
“I’m not your typical example here, because as the former advisor to the President, obviously, I have friends in the U.S. and in different intelligence communities, so I first heard of a threat in autumn 2021, so I was prewarned,” he said. “I got an advanced warning, same as the President, same as everyone in the world, a few days in advance.”
“It seemed unbelievable. The whole world lived in denial. I keep thinking it’s a nightmare and I’ll wake up eventually,” he said. “It was 2022 and we’re suddenly back to 1941. It’s a strange experience.”