Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska once opposed her husband’s plan to run for President of Ukraine, She stayed out of the spotlight until Zelensky was elected. She has since embraced her role and is being heralded for her efforts to rally Ukrainians as the country comes under attack from Russia.
Olena is Zelensky’s most staunch supporter and is remaining in Ukraine with him, along with their two children, a 17-year-old daughter, and a 9-year-old son. Unlike, say, Justin Trudeau and his family, the first family of Ukraine is staying put and offering support and inspiring perseverance to fellow Ukrainians. She has been using Instagram to get out messages of encouragement. She posted a strong message just hours after the first bombings occurred.
‘My dear people! Ukrainians! I’m looking at you all today. Everyone I see on TV, on the streets, on the Internet. I see your posts and videos. And you know what? You are incredible!
‘I am proud to live with you in the same country! It is said that many people are a crowd. This is not about us. Because many Ukrainians are not crowds. This is an army!
‘And today I will not have panic and tears. I will be calm and confident. My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And with you. Love you! I love Ukraine.’
She met Zelensky at Kryvyi Rih National University. She studied to be an architect, winning a place to study architecture at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, while Zelensky studied law. He went on to pursue a career as a comedian and actor while she remained behind the cameras. She became a writer for his comedy troupe.
Zelensky’s most famous role is hit Ukrainian TV series Servant of the People, a political satire that debuted in 2015 and went on for three seasons.
It tells the tale of a history school teacher’s ‘tirade against government corruption’, which goes viral, with Zelensky’s character Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko soon finding himself sitting the president’s seat.
In a true case of life imitating art, in 2018, Zelensky announced his candidacy for the president and won overwhelming support for his anti-establishment ticket.
The decision thrust publicity-shy Olena into the public eye.
‘Frankly speaking, I aggressively opposed the start of this project,’ she told a local television station. ‘Because this is a very difficult move; it’s not even a project, it’s another direction in life.’
She explained her husband initially consulted with members of his inner circle to ‘protect’ her from the details of his political life before committing to the decision.
She has appeared on the cover of Vogue and champions Ukrainian designers wearing their designs.
Zelensky’s campaign started out as a joke and quickly became a winning campaign, much to the surprise of his opponent.
Like his character, Zelensky ran on an anti-corruption campaign and trounced the pro-Russia incumbent by taking 73 percent of votes.
Poroshenko lost to the television star across all regions of the country, including in the west where he traditionally enjoyed strong support.
It was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by poverty, corruption and a five-year war.
His rise into the highest political office in his country has a 2016-ish ring to it, doesn’t it? Most people were skeptical of Trump’s ability to win against Hillary that year, yet he, too, won all across the country.
Ukrainian people are inspiring citizens in free countries across the world. Their president is the leader the world has been waiting for with his show of confidence and determination to fight for his country against Putin. While Democrats (and their cohorts in the press) are quick to tout Biden as the world leader who has brought Western countries together against Putin, the argument can be made that the real unifier is Zelensky. Biden paid lip service by issuing warnings that an attack by Russia was likely imminent but he has mostly lead from the sidelines. He’s followed the lead of European leaders instead of getting out in front, as American presidents usually do. This isn’t just a European war, as isolationists like to call it, this is a fight for the sovereignty of an independent country. It is a fight for freedom. Russia is a nuclear power that must be stopped.
During his inaugural address in 2019, Zelensky told lawmakers: “I do not want my picture in your offices: the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids' photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.” pic.twitter.com/fjsHudv7FV
— Benjamin Ramm (@BenjaminRamm) February 26, 2022
| Президент Володимир Зеленський та перша леді України Олена Зеленська 🇺🇦♡ |
.#оленазеленська #olenazelenska #olenazelenskafanpage #першаледі #firstlady #volodymyrzelensky #володимирзеленський #ucrania #Україна #Ukraine #ЕленаЗеленская #elenazelenskaya pic.twitter.com/gcvkkzUbJX
— Fan Account of Olena Zelenska (@olenazelenskaua) December 4, 2021
Olena posted another message last Friday to the Ukrainian people.
Sharing a photo of the Ukrainian flag on Instagram on Friday, she wrote: ‘My dear people! Ukrainians! I’m looking at you all today. Everyone I see on TV, on the streets, on the Internet. I see your posts and videos. And you know what? You are incredible!
Putin and Russian oligarchs will soon feel the pinch of economic sanctions. A Ukrainian sailor partially sank a yacht owned by Alexander Mijeev, a former head of the Russian Helicopter Corporation and now leads Rostec, a Russian state-owned weapons supplier. The sailor has been arrested. At the time of his arrest, he said, “The owner of this ship is a criminal who makes his living selling weapons and now they kill Ukrainians.”
Putin’s invasion into Ukraine came almost to the day of the anniversary of the 2014 uprising, called the Maidan revolution, that forced Russian-backed then-President Viktor Yanukovych out of power eight years ago. One Ukrainian noted that Ukraine has been at war with Russia ever since.
“It’s a big stress that we are facing, but we have been at war with Russia for the last eight years,” 23-year-old Iuliia, who gathered with other demonstrators at Maidan Square, told CBS News. “For me, it was a good sacrifice and a sign that people were willing to fight for their freedom, their country, and their right to live the way they want… it was really meaningful back then and it’s still meaningful today,” she said.
Zelensky and his wife honored the dead on February 20.
Вічна пам'ять загиблим на Майдані! Вічна пам'ять Героям Небесної Сотні! pic.twitter.com/HDXCd6iARJ
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 20, 2022
I’ll end with this example of a badass Ukrainian. This older woman confronted Russian soldiers in Ukraine and told them to put sunflower seeds in their pockets so flowers will grow when they die on Ukrainian soil.
Ukrainian woman confronts Russian soldiers in Henychesk, Kherson region. Asks them why they came to our land and urges to put sunflower seeds in their pockets [so that flowers would grow when they die on the Ukrainian land] pic.twitter.com/ztTx2qK7kB
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) February 24, 2022