NATIONAL NEWS

Ukraine’s first lady emerges as a staunch defender of her nation on social media

Mar 9, 2022, 2:44 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:18 pm

KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "PRESS OFFICE OF UKRAINIAN...

KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "PRESS OFFICE OF UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and his wife Olena Zelenska (R) lay the wreath on the monument at Mykhailivska Square within the 29th Independence Day celebrations at the Sofiyska Square in Kiev, Ukraine on August 24, 2020. (Photo by PressOffice of Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Photo by PressOffice of Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, posted an open letter addressed to the world’s media on Tuesday, detailing what she described as the “mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”

In recent weeks Zelenska has repeatedly used social media to highlight the plight of her nation, yet none have been quite as direct as her recent post, which ends with the rallying cry: “We will win. Because of our unity. Unity towards love for Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!”

As her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, has emerged as the face of Ukrainian defiance of the Russian invasion, Zelenska has become increasingly vociferous online as a means to support him and bolster international awareness of their country’s plight.

When Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelensky declared in a video statement that he believed “enemy sabotage groups” had entered Kyiv and that he was their number one target. His family, he said, was the second target.

The whereabouts of his wife and two children are secret, for security reasons. Nonetheless, Zelenska has been playing an active role on social media, inspiring her people and backing 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 published 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 outlets from around the world” that had requested an interview with her.

She began the impassioned missive — headlined “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 assurances from Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets, who call this a ‘special operation’ — it is, in fact, the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”

Zelenska highlighted the “terrifying and devastating” child casualties, while also describing the horror of babies born in bomb shelters and roads “flooded” with refugees.

According to the website of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, 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 at the Kryvyi Rih Gymnasium №95 high school in Kryvyi Rih, the southern Ukrainian city where they both grew up. Her biography on the site says she then 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 moved away from her academic field of interest and into showbusiness.

She helped Zelensky create stand-up performances for the Russian TV comedy show KVN, according to Ukrainian press agency UNIAN, and later became a screenwriter at TV production company Kvartal 95 Studio, which she co-founded.

In an extensive interview with Vogue Ukraine in 2019, shortly after her husband swept to power in a landslide election, Zelenska described herself as a “non-public person” who prefers to stay “backstage.”

When her comedian husband first expressed his political ambitions, his wife was none too impressed. In the interview with Vogue, which featured a glamorous photo shoot, she said: “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.”

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 assuming the role of first lady, she has accompanied her husband on numerous official visits around the world, including to the USA, Japan and France. Meanwhile her position has enabled her to focus on numerous issues close to her heart, among them “children’s health, equal opportunities for all Ukrainians and cultural diplomacy,” she told Vogue.

One of her campaigns has been to improve meals for children at school, going on fact-finding missions to Latvia, Japan and the USA, among other countries.

Needless to say, she is now focused on Ukraine’s battle for survival. Earlier this month she set up a dedicated Telegram channel to provide advice on “how to act and live in war time.”

Hours after publishing her open letter, Zelenska, who in 2020 was admitted to hospital with Covid-19, updated her Instagram feed with a picture of young cancer patients heading to safety and treatment in Poland.

She wrote: “These are young cancer patients from Ukraine. Just yesterday, they were hiding from the shelling in the basements of clinics. Now they are crossing the Polish border on the way to find safety and, most importantly, to continue their treatments. No aggressor in the world can prevent them from winning the battle against the disease!”

In her open letter she reiterated her husband’s demand for a no-fly zone, adding: “Ukraine is stopping the force that may aggressively enter your cities tomorrow under the pretext of saving civilians.”

“If we don’t stop Putin, who threatens to start a nuclear war, there will be no safe place in the world for any of us.”

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

The Supreme Court may hand down at least one opinion on Monday, according to a new post on the cour...

John Fritze, CNN

Supreme Court may announce at least one opinion Monday as US waits for word on Trump ballot case

The Supreme Court may hand down at least one opinion on Monday, according to a new post on the court’s website. The announcement is certain to drive speculation that the justices are prepared to decide whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to appear on Colorado’s presidential ballot.

3 hours ago

(From left) Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in 'Dune: Part Two.'
Mandatory Credit:	Niko Tavernise/Wa...

Lindsey Bahr, AP Film Writer

‘Dune: Part Two’ brings spice power to the box office with $81.5 million debut

Movie theaters were looking for a savior and “Dune: Part Two” is delivering on the promise.

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

Eric Bradner and Daniel Strauss, CNN

Trump wins all delegates at stake in Michigan GOP convention amid leadership battle

Former President Donald Trump won all 39 delegates at stake at a Michigan Republican convention Saturday, as officials there sought to move past a leadership battle that has split the state party into rival factions.

21 hours ago

Workers clear snow in a residential neighborhood, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Truckee, Calif. (AP P...

Brooke Hess and Ken Ritter, The Associated Press

A massive blizzard howls in the Sierra Nevada. High winds and heavy snow close roads and ski resorts

A powerful blizzard that a meteorologist termed “as bad as it gets” howled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, closing a long stretch of Interstate 80 in Northern California, forcing ski resorts to shut down, and leaving thousands of homes without power.

23 hours ago

People inspect damage and recover items from their homes following Israeli air strikes on February ...

Waafa Shurafa and Samy Magdy

U.S. says Israel has agreed to the framework for a Gaza cease-fire. Hamas now must decide

A senior U.S. official says Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed Gaza cease-fire and hostage release deal, and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it.

1 day ago

yellow tape crossing blue and red lights...

Associated Press

Body parts of 2 people found in Long Island park and police are trying to identify them

Police on New York's Long Island were trying to identify human remains found in a popular suburban park that appear to be from a man and a woman.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Ukraine’s first lady emerges as a staunch defender of her nation on social media