Who Is Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Wife, Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s First Lady?

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Olena Zelenska may regard herself as a “non-public individual,” but as the wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, she has become his most steadfast supporter during the Russian invasion. Ukraine’s first lady, a screenwriter and former classmate of Zelenskyy, is considered to be one of the country’s most influential women.

The 44-year-old, whose maiden name is Kiyashko, was born on Feb. 5, 1978, in Kryvyi Rih. She studied architecture at Kryvyi Rih National University before she set her sights on writing. It was during this time that she met Zelensky, a law student and aspiring comedian. Their friendship began when they were students at the same university, according to media reports. Who Is Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Wife, Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s First Lady?

Who Is Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Wife, Olena Zelenska

Following his success in the farce troupe, Zelenskyy rose to fame as a satirist for “Servant of the People,” where he portrayed a lovable high school teacher who became president after being fed up with corrupt politicians. He was dubbed one of Ukraine’s top entertainers. According to the site, Zelenska and Zelenskyy dated for eight years before getting married on September 6, 2003. They had a daughter named Aleksandra, now 17, a year after their marriage. The pair also has a 9-year-old son named Kiril.

“I prefer staying backstage,” Zelenska told Vogue Ukraine in 2019. “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. At the same time, this does not concern the publicity of my children: I have not posted their photos on social networks before, and now I will not either.”

According to People, Zelenska discovered her husband was running for president on New Year’s Day 2019, after “social media.” When she inquired about his silence before going public, his response was, “I forgot.”

“I was not too happy when I realized that those were the plans. I realized how everything would change, and what difficulties we would have to face,” Zelenska admitted. “… My husband knows how to surprise. But, if seriously, we had been discussing this issue for a long time, and I said that I would always support him.”

Zelenska allegedly “aggressively opposed” her husband’s initial plans to pursue politics knowing that she and her family would be in the spotlight. Despite her initial reluctance, she was determined to back him up, whatever he decided. She showed up frequently by Zelenskyy’s side during photo opportunities and speeches.

In a democratic election in 2019, Zelenskyy was elected by an overwhelming margin. He vowed to break the stranglehold of corrupt oligarchs over Ukraine since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. She has graced the cover of Vogue Ukraine in 2019.

Despite their status as public figures, the pair has always prioritized safeguarding their children’s privacy, according to Vogue. Zelenska also emphasized her resolve to be a supportive first lady for her spouse.

“I grew up in Kryvyi Rih, I have been living in this country all my life, and I understand how many problems we have got,” she said. “But if I’m going to grab onto everything, it won’t work, so our team decided to focus on specific tasks: children’s health, equal opportunities for all Ukrainians and cultural diplomacy.”

Women’s rights is one of Zelenska’s most important issues. She began Ukraine’s membership in the G7 global gender equality initiative, the Biarritz Partnership, in 2019. She has also worked to raise awareness of the Ukrainian language and reform the school nutrition system. During her travels, she has chosen to promote Ukrainian designers, particularly during her visits to Paris where she frequently shops for fashion items from local designers.

“The president’s spouse has the opportunity to communicate with those who are close to power,” she told Vogue. “Doors of officials do not close before the first lady. I’m not a politician, and I do not have the right to interfere in the president’s work, but to become an intermediary between people and officials, so that the latter will hear the first, I can and I am really willing to.”

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Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s First Lady

In addition to her responsibilities as Ukraine’s first lady, Zelenska continues to work for Kvartal 95 Studio, a production company established by her husband, People magazine notes.

In 2020, Zelenska was diagnosed with coronavirus. Her spouse and children were also virus-free. She stayed in constant touch with the public on social media, claiming to “feel wonderful” while undergoing treatment and avoiding contact with her family “in order not to put them in danger.”

Zelenska and her children have reportedly remained in Ukraine during this Russian invasion, according to reports. According to Zelenskyy, who has chosen to stay in the country, “the enemy designated me as target no.1, my family as target no.2,” before declining an offer to be evacuated from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

“I will not have panic and tears,” she wrote on Instagram. “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.”

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