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Safe and well! CEO of Ukrainian tackle supplier is out of Kyiv and organising aid

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Angling International has made contact with Evgeniy Sheiko, the CEO of Favorite Fishing International, the Ukrainian rod manufacturer and supplier based in the country’s capital, Kyiv.

Those who know Evgeniy (pictured above) from making business connections with Favorite or perhaps from meeting him and his colleagues at EFTTEX and ICAST will be pleased to know he is safe from the worst of the fighting that is currently waging in Ukraine, having moved to arrange operations at a warehouse in a more secure zone towards the west of the country.

Evgeniy says his wife and young daughter have left the country for security reasons, but he has no plans to follow them to a safe state. In fact, it is from this warehouse in western Ukraine that Evgeniy says he and his colleagues at Favorite are working to supply food, arms and other provisions to those caught in the worst fighting in the country.

Favorite is part of the IBIS group, one of the oldest arms and fishing businesses in Ukraine. It has close to 800 employees, 400 of which remain in Kyiv. Some have even volunteered to join the fighting. From the west, Evgeniy is focused on keeping his employees paid so they can survive through the war, while also working on social projects with counterparts and friends from other companies to organise housing and shelter for those who have lost their homes.

Together with members of his import and export team who have built up international connections over many years, Evgeniy is reaching out across social media to spread news about the fighting and generate support from other countries. They are also sourcing essential products for Ukrainian fighters from around the European Union.

With bombing encroaching further westwards and even expected to come close to Favorite’s warehouse, Evgeniy spoke to Angling International on the night of Tuesday, March 16th to explain the realities on the ground and to deliver a defiant message from inside the war-torn country.

Evgeniy said: “All the Favorite team, including women, are still here and will stay in Ukraine. The men have entered the Territorial Defence or joined the Army as well as working as volunteers for different charities. The women are helping to supply the army with food and also helping with humanitarian aid. It’s amazing to witness it. Life is very different, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved my country, and my company, as much as I do right now.”

Among those switching to new responsibilities in the conflict is Pavel Lyasotsky, a field tester and Favorite pro-staff member, who has joined the Territorial Defence (see photo, above right). Elena Druzhynska, the company’s chief marketing officer, is working as a volunteer in the warehouse at a charity foundation. And Sergey Ivolgin, the head of video production, is now delivering products to the army in ‘one of the most dangerous hot spots’ (see photos, bottom of page).

Meanwhile Favorite product manager Ivan Samoylov is working to organise humanitarian aid from a warehouse in his home town of Vinnitsa (see photo, below right). Samoylov has also joined with other angling personalities in the Ukraine to send a message to anglers in Russia via a series of YouTube videos. Where once they were putting together instruction videos on fishing techniques, they say, now they are showing the devastation on the streets of Ukraine’s biggest cities and dispensing advice on how best to survive the horrors. “They are also trying to get the truth out about the war to their Russian followers,” says Evgeniy. “Information that the Russian media is hiding from people.”

But it is the support from friends and business associates from outside the country that is much on the mind of Evgeniy when Angling International speaks with him. “We have had incredible support from all our partners around the world,” he says, “including Favorite distributors and suppliers. I can show you messages from Poland, Italy, Hungary, Japan, the USA and more. But it goes further than that. Right now our friends abroad are directly helping our families and friends by providing apartments in their countries and offering food and other provisions.

“They are helping with donations and sending clothing. There are trucks with humanitarian aid, which we appreciate so much, and we are coordinating here at the warehouse, doing what we can with the people and skills that we have.”

Protests against the war are also helping, says an emotional Evgeniy, both to bolster the defiant spirit of Ukrainians and also to send a global message that the invasion is an affront to the world. “People we know have helped to organise demonstrations to support Ukraine,” he says as night begins to draw in. “I can definitely say that our partners in the fishing industry around the globe have had a huge impact in helping us win this Third World War against Putin’s terror.

“They should know that we will rebuild our country and be even stronger in the future.”

Before he says he has to go to be sure of safety overnight, Angling International asks Evgeniy for a final message to the angling trade. Incredibly, business at Favorite has not completely ground to a halt, despite the terrors of the war and the new priorities of the employees. Says Evgeniy: “Most of the workers find two or three hours to deal with emails, and product development is still continuing as well as export activity. But sales for fishing have stopped completely in Ukraine. It is not safe in any part of the country.

“Tonight might be the hardest so far for us. We are expecting more rockets as it is Russia’s last attempt, not to win but to destroy civic buildings. They think it will break our spirit. But no way.

“And my message to the trade is this. Please urge everyone to believe in our market, our company and our people. Favorite will continue to develop even during the war. This is how we will win this war despite all the loses we have suffered and all the destruction.

“We will rebuild everything and become a new strong economic centre long after Putin’s regime is gone,” he added. “But we are asking for everyone to get involved by pushing your governments to do more. This is a war on our territory, but it is also a war against the whole world.

“We have to close the sky over Ukraine to stop the bombings of our cities and civilian population. There are many ways you can help us if you want to, so please reach me on Facebook.”

• Evgeniy Sheiko would especially like to thank the following friends and partners:
Favorite Fishing USA
Stepanow Fishing, Poland
EBOAT.LV, Latvia
Wobblerek, Hungary
Anton Levit, Germany
He adds: “There are also partners from Russia and Belarus who are against the war, however it is not safe to name them.”

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