Entertainment And News

Ukraine’s First Lady Encourages Strength During Her Nation’s Darkest Times: ‘I Will Not Have Panic And Tears’

Photo: paparazzza / photowalking / Shutterstock
Olena Zelenska, Volodymr Zelensky

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has brought a lot of attention to the Eastern European country, and by default, the sitting president Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he navigates through the trials of the war declared by Putin.

However, behind every powerful man is an even stronger woman, and the same goes for President Zelenskyy who is supported by Ukraine's first lady, his wife, Olena Zelenska.

Who is President Zelenskyy’s wife? Meet Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska.

Born in Kryvyi Rih on February 6th, 1978, Zelenska is the youngest First Lady in Ukraine's history and wife to the nation's youngest president.

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Zelenska, whose maiden name is Kiyashko, studied at the same school as Zelenskyy for years since they both grew up in the same city.

Although, they didn't know each other until Zelenska went to Kryvyi Rih National University to study at the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

Once they had met, however, Zelenskyy had put in a significant amount of time and effort in trying to win her love — stealing her from her then-boyfriend as well, according to UNIAN.

The pair dated for eight years before finally getting married in 2003. Their daughter, Oleksandra, was born two years after their marriage while their son, Kyrylo, was born in 2013.

Even though she graduated with a degree in architecture, Olena Zelenska worked as a writer.

Instead, she became a writer and helped her husband create stand up performances for the KVN comedy show.

Zelenskyy was famously an actor and comedian before entering into politics, and Zelenska helped him with that, eventually becoming a writer at the Kvartal 95 Studio.

But Zelenska wanted to remain behind the scenes while her husband grew in fame, only appearing in rare photos on her husband's Instagram and on videos by Kvartal 95 and Liga Smikhu ("Humor League"), Ukraine's TV comedy show.

Olena Zelenska was initially unsure about her husband's entrance into politics.

The same studio she worked with, Kvartal 95, created the Servant of the People political party in March 2018, before also creating a television series with the same name.

Zelenskyy had already been leading the opinion polls before announcing his presidential campaign — something that Zelenska was in opposition to.

"Frankly speaking, I aggressively opposed the start of this project,” she told the ICTV channel. “Because this is a very difficult move; it's not even a project, it's another direction in life.”

She further elaborated that she was simply nervous about the move into a different career path and that people tried to keep her hidden from the public to not overwhelm her — but she eventually started supporting her husband in his endeavors.

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On many occasions, she has stated that she wanted to stay away from politics, but after entering office as the president’s First Lady, she has done a lot of work in that department and has had a part in some very successful and important initiatives thus far.

Her first initiative was nutrition reform in Ukrainian schools.

With the help of chef Ievgen Klopotenko of CultFood, they created a brand new food standard with a menu that contained over 160 items including both traditional Ukrainian dishes and popular dishes from different cuisines of the world.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the new food standards which took effect in September 2021.

She has taken part in several humanitarian-focused initiatives, like fighting for Ukraine’s accession to the G7 international initiative on gender equality, the Biarritz Partnership, as well as her "Without Barriers" initiative which strives to create a convenient catalog of services for vulnerable groups.

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Now, in the very trying times of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, she can be seen as a ray of hope, strength, and bravery.

In the midst of conflict, she made a post — and has continued to post — about the Ukrainian people and offered encouraging words.

“Today I will not have panic and tears. I will be calm and confident,” she said. “My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And with you.”

The First Lady of Ukraine has been an inspiration to many and continues to fight for humanitarian causes as well as elevating the voices of the Ukrainian people.

If you want to offer support to the people of Ukraine there are plenty of ways to help.

United Help Ukraine is focused internally in Ukraine and is spreading donations of food, money and medical supplies to people impacted by the conflict and the families of wounded soldiers.

Donate to United Help Ukraine here.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.

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