Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s First Lady has opened up on the reality of coping with her husband’s absence and the impact the Russian invasion had on the family.
Olena also addressed the family’s need for quality time together as since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, she has spent months concealed in undisclosed locations with her children.
Olena described her initial emotional state during the invasion as “a constant feeling of adrenaline”. With time, she recognized the importance of calming herself and adapting to “the existing conditions”.
Emerging from hiding last year, the conflict propelled the former scriptwriter into the spotlight, leading her to travel the world to meet world leaders and deliver speeches.
She told the BBC: “This may be a bit selfish, but I need my husband, not a historical figure, by my side.”
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Olena continued: “But we stay strong, we have strength both emotionally and physically. And I am sure we will handle it together,”
“We don’t live together with my husband, the family is separated,” she added.
“We have the opportunity to see each other but not as often as we would like. My son misses his father.”
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The first lady and Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, were high school sweethearts who later worked together in a comedy group and television studio, with him acting and her writing scripts.
Today, she comments on how she never imagined her husband being the prominent “historical figure” he has become.
Despite conceding that this longing may be perceived as “selfish,” Olena Zelenska insists that the president possesses the drive, dedication, inspiration, and tenacity required to navigate this continuous struggle.
She told the BBC: “I believe in him. And I support him. I know that he has enough strength. For any other person I know, I think, it would be much harder this situation.
“He really is a very strong and resilient person. And this resilience is what we all need right now.”
Her recent efforts as first lady have been centred on assisting Ukrainians in coping with the psychological ramifications of the conflict.
She is now organising a summit in Kyiv with British actor and writer Stephen Fry, a well-known campaigner for mental health issues.
This summit will focus primarily on mental health and resilience.
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