While Ukraine goes through one of the most challenging times in history, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky holds his ground and stays strong throughout the tribulations.
Millions upon millions of families have fled Ukraine to be safe in the neighboring countries – but Volodymyr Zelensky & his wife Olena stay behind, along with many Ukrainians who are willing to defend their land.
Today’s post is about the pure love between Volodymyr Zelensky & Olena Zelenska. Both of them hail from a small town in central Ukraine – Kryvyi Rih. They went to the same school but hardly knew each other.
Partners in comedy…
Zelenska (maiden name Kiyashko) was born and raised in the same city as her husband: Kryvyi Rih in a Russian-speaking region of central Ukraine.
But they didn’t meet until college. The pair grew up with mutual friends but they first crossed paths while they were students at Kryvyi Rih National University in 1995, where she was studying architecture and he was a law student who dreamed of a career in comedy.
Volodymyr was interested in Olena but didn’t share his feelings until he was ready. Volodymyr spoke about feeling genuine love for Olena on their last day of school:
“It was only on our last day of school that it hit me.”
After school, both of them went to different universities. In 1995, Volodymyr approached Olena on the street and asked if he could borrow a film she had with her – it was a movie he had seen multiple times, he just wanted to find a way to make conversation and get Olena’s number.
After they were married, Zelenska went on to work as a comedy writer on Zelensky’s now-infamous 2015 political satire comedy show, Servant of the People, in which he – fittingly – played the President of Ukraine.
Whether she was attracted to her husband’s on-screen statesmanship or not, Zelenska has made it clear she always preferred life out of the spotlight, later telling press she preferred to be “backstage” and does not like to tell jokes or be the life of the party.
They began dating and got married in 2003 – being truly in love with one another. The couple had two beautiful children together – Aleksandra Zelenskaya & Kiril Zelenskiy. In 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky became the President of Ukraine, while his wife Olena became the First Lady. The incredible couple’s marriage has spanned for 18 years.
Mother, writer, stateswoman
When youngest child Kyrylo was six, Zelensky ran for president. Zelenska was strongly against it at first. “Frankly speaking, I aggressively opposed the start of this project,” she once told: “Because this is a very difficult move; it’s not even a project, it’s another direction in life.”
Despite not having any political background or party affiliation, Zelensky went on to win the 2019 election, beating incumbent Petro Poroshenko with more than 73 per cent of votes, and his wife has stepped into her new position in the spotlight dutifully and with grace.
“I am a non-public person. But the new realities [being First Lady] require their own rules, and I’m trying to comply with them,” she told Vogue Ukraine, posing for photo calls and standing firmly by her husband’s side.
“I prefer staying backstage. My husband is always on the forefront, while I feel more comfortable in the shade. I am not the life of the party, I do not like to tell jokes. It’s not in my character. But I found reasons for myself in favor of publicity. One of them is the opportunity to attract people’s attention to important social issues.”
The couple’s first child, daughter Oleksandra, now 17, was born in July 2004 – less than a year after their wedding – and Zelenska says she’s already appeared in films. Their son Kyrylo, now 9, was born nine years later in January 2013.
Olena, sharing a beautiful post on Instagram, wrote about her husband:
“You know, I’m sure you’re looking at me in this picture. Because you always look at me like that.”
“I wish every woman had such looks. Only those who truly love look like that. I always feel your love. As long as you look like that, I’m not afraid of anything.”
“We still have things ahead of us. So take care of yourself. We have to realise everything we dream of together. Happy birthday, my love! I promise to look back at you. Just like that. Always!”
When crisis took over Ukraine, Olena posted brave and inspirational words on Instagram:
“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.”
Since the invasion Zelenska has upped her social media presence, sharing pictures of babies born in Kyiv bomb shelters and images of the Ukrainian flag with her two-and-a-half million followers.
“My dear people, Ukrainians!” she wrote alongside one of them. “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 and in the same country.”
As First Lady, she has also spoken specifically to the women fighting for Ukraine since the Russian invasion. She also shares moving photos of Ukrainians whose lives have been blighted by the war, including images of young cancer patients who were forced to flee to Poland.
Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, told America’s ABC News that she fears for the safety of her husband, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“As every woman in Ukraine, now I fear for my husband,” Zelenska said.
The 44-year-old wife of Ukraine’s president said she calls her husband every morning, but only after praying for his well-being. She also said she knows her spouse of 18 years is strong and capable of defending the country he loves.
Zelensky said last month that “the enemy marked me as target No 1, my family, as target No 2”. US intelligence officials made similar statements when Russia launched its “special military operation” on February 24.
Bravely choosing to keep his family in Ukraine, Zelensky recently described himself as the Russians’ “target No 1” and called his wife and their two children as “No 2”.
The family have gone into hiding in Kyiv, refusing to disclose their precise whereabouts for safety reasons, but Zelenska has vowed not to “panic or cry”.
“I will be calm and confident,” she wrote on Instagram in the hours after the first attacks. “My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And with you”.
She never even wanted Zelensky to run for president. Now, she and her husband face one of the greatest tests of leadership in history, with the eyes of the world firmly on them. If ever there was proof Zelenska has stepped up to the role, it is now.
While we hope every day for things to settle in Ukraine, it’s heartwarming and endearing to see the leader and First Lady of Ukraine being brave people.