Over the past few weeks, Zelenska has repeatedly taken to social media to shine a light on her nation’s plight, but none have been as direct as her recent message, which ends with the rallying cry: “We will overcome. . Thanks to our unity. Unity towards love for Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!”
As her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, has become the face of Ukraine’s defiance of the Russian invasion, Zelenska has become increasingly vocal online in support of him and raising international awareness of the plight of their country.
When Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelensky said in a video statement that he believed “enemy sabotage groups” had entered Kiev and that he was their number one target. His family, he said, was the second target.
The fate of his wife and two children is kept secret for security reasons. Nonetheless, Zelenska has been active on social media, inspiring her people and supporting resistance to Russian forces, while garnering support from the rest of the world. On Instagram alone, she has 2.4 million followers.
The 44-year-old posted the open letter Tuesday on her various social media platforms, as well as on the president’s official website, in response to what she said was the “overwhelming number of media around the world” who had asked for an interview with her.
She began the impassioned missive – titled “I Testify” – by recalling the events of February 24.
“Tanks crossed the Ukrainian border, planes entered our airspace, missile launchers surrounded our cities,” she wrote.
“Despite the assurances of Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets calling it a ‘special operation’, this is in fact a mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”
Zelenska highlighted the “terrifying and devastating” child losses, while describing the horror of babies born in bomb shelters and roads “flooded” with refugees.
According to the website of the Congress of Ukrainian Women, a public platform that lobbies for gender equality in government and wider Ukrainian society, Zelenska was born in February 1978 and met her future husband in Kryvyi Rih Gymnasium №95 in Kryvyi Rih, the city in southern Ukraine where they both grew up. Her bio on the site says she later majored in architecture at the Kryvyi Rih Economic Institute, graduating in 2000.
The couple married in 2003 and had daughter Oleksandra a year later. Their son, Kyrylo, was born in 2013.
Like her husband, who has a law degree, Zelenska strayed from her academic area of interest and turned to showbusiness.
According to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, she helped Zelensky create stand-up shows for Russian TV show KVN, then became a screenwriter for TV production company Kvartal 95 Studio, which she co-founded.
In a lengthy interview with Vogue Ukraine in 2019, shortly after her husband came to power in a landslide election, Zelenska described herself as a “non-public person” who prefers to stay “behind the scenes”.
When her comedian husband first voiced his political ambitions, his wife wasn’t too impressed. In the interview with Vogue, which featured a glamorous photo shoot, she said: “I wasn’t too happy when I realized that was the plans. I realized how much everything was going to change and at what difficulties we would have to face.”
She spoke of adjusting to life in the public sphere, but expressed her determination to protect her children, saying, “Let them choose how they want to live.”
In the three years since she assumed the role of first lady, she has accompanied her husband on numerous official visits around the world, including the United States, Japan and France. In the meantime, her position has allowed her to focus on many issues close to her heart, including “children’s health, equal opportunities for all Ukrainians and cultural diplomacy”, she said. told Vogue.
One of his campaigns has been to improve school meals for children, carrying out fact-finding missions to Latvia, Japan and the United States, among other countries.
Needless to say, her focus is now on the battle for Ukraine’s survival. Earlier this month, she created a dedicated Telegram channel to provide advice on “how to act and live in times of war”.
Hours after posting her open letter, Zelenska, who in 2020 was admitted to hospital with Covid-19, updated her Instagram feed with a photo of young cancer patients heading for safety and treatment Poland.
She wrote: “These are young Ukrainians with cancer. Only yesterday they were hiding from the bombardments in the basements of clinics. Now they are crossing the Polish border to find safety and, above all, to continue their treatments. None aggressor in the world cannot prevent them from winning the battle against disease!”
In her open letter, she reiterated her husband’s demand for a no-fly zone, adding, “Ukraine stops the force that may aggressively enter your cities tomorrow under the guise of rescuing civilians.”
“If we don’t stop Putin, who is threatening to start a nuclear war, there will be no safe place in the world for any of us.”