Ukrainian architect and screenwriter
Olena Volodymyrivna Zelenska (née Kiyashko; Ukrainian: Олена Володимирівна Зеленська (Кіяшко); born 6 February 1978) is a Ukrainian screenwriter who is the current First Lady of Ukraine as the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- I really want the whole world, and Americans as well, not to get used to this war. Yes, it is far from you, it lasts long, and you can get tired of it, but please do not get used to it, because if everyone gets used to it, this war will never end. Don't get used to the pain. And when you start thinking that there may be some reason for this war, it means that you are in the zone of Russian propaganda. Be careful, hear the truth.
I Testify... (2022)Edit
- What happened just over a week ago was impossible to believe. Our country was peaceful; our cities, towns, and villages were full of life.
On February 24th, we all woke up to the announcement of a Russian invasion. Tanks crossed the Ukrainian border, planes entered our airspace, missile launchers surrounded our cities.
Despite assurances from Kremlin-backed propaganda outlets, who call this a "special operation" - it is, in fact, the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.
- Perhaps the most terrifying and devastating of this invasion are the child casualties. Eight-year-old Alice who died on the streets of Okhtyrka while her grandfather tried to protect her. Or Polina from Kyiv, who died in the shelling with her parents. 14-year-old Arseniy was hit in the head by wreckage, and could not be saved because an ambulance could not get to him on time because of intense fires.
When Russia says that it is 'not waging war against civilians,' I call out the names of these murdered children first.
Our women and children now live in bomb shelters and basements. You have most likely all seen these images from Kyiv and Kharkiv metro stations, where people lie on the floors with their children and pets – trapped beneath. These are just consequences of war for some, for Ukrainians it now a horrific reality. In some cities families cannot get out of the bomb shelters for several days in a row because of the indiscriminate and deliberate bombing and shelling of civilian infrastructure.
- This war is being waged against the civilian population, and not just through shelling.
Some people require intensive care and continuous treatment, which they cannot receive now. How easy is it to inject insulin in the basement? Or to get asthma medication under heavy fire? Not to mention the thousands of cancer patients whose essential access to chemotherapy and radiation treatment have now been indefinitely delayed.
Local communities on social media are full of despair. Many people, including the elderly, severely ill and those with disabilities, have been debilitatingly cut off, ending up far from their families and without any support. War against these innocent people is a double crime.
- Our roads are flooded with refugees. Look into the eyes of these tired women and children who carry with them the pain and heartache of leaving loved ones and life as they knew it behind. The men bringing them to the borders shedding tears to break apart their families, but bravely returning to fight for our freedom.
- The aggressor, Putin, thought that he would unleash blitzkrieg on Ukraine. But he underestimated our country, our people, and their patriotism. Ukrainians, regardless of political views, native language, beliefs, and nationalities, stand in unparalleled unity.
While Kremlin propagandists bragged that Ukrainians would welcome them with flowers as saviors, they have been shunned with Molotov cocktails.
- I thank the citizens of the attacked cities, who have coordinated to help those in need. Those that keep working - in pharmacies, stores, public transportation, and social services – showing that in Ukraine, life wins.
I acknowledge those that have provided humanitarian aid to our citizens and thank you for your continued support. And to our neighbors who have generously opened their borders to provide shelter for our women and children, thank you for keeping them safe, when the aggressor has rendered us unable to do so.
To all the people around the world who are rallying to support Ukraine. We see you! We’re here watching and appreciate your support.
Ukraine wants peace. But Ukraine will defend its borders. Defend its identity. These it will never yield.
- In cities where shelling persists, where people find themselves under debris, unable to get out of basements for days, we need safe corridors for humanitarian aid and evacuation of civilians to safety. We need those in power to close our sky!
- I appeal to you, dear media: keep showing what is happening here and keep showing the truth. In the information war waged by the Russian Federation, every piece of evidence is crucial.
And with this letter, I testify and tell the world: the war in Ukraine is not a war "somewhere out there." This is a war in Europe, close to the EU borders. Ukraine is stopping the force that may aggressively enter your cities tomorrow under the pretext of saving civilians.
Last week to me and my people, this would have seemed like an exaggeration, but it is the reality we’re living in today. And we do not know how long it will last. 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.
The number one target is all of us (2022)Edit
- Every Ukrainian is a target for Russians: Every woman, every child.
Those who died the other day from a Russian missile [while] trying to evacuate from Kramatorsk were not members of the presidential family, they were just Ukrainians. So the number one target for the enemy is all of us.
- The main thing for Ukraine today is that the whole other world hears and sees us, and it is important that our war does not become "habitual," so that our victims do not become statistics. That's why I communicate with people through foreign media.
Don't get used to our grief!
- Ukrainians did not believe in war — we believed in civilized dialogue. But when the attack took place, we did not become a "frightened crowd," as the enemy had hoped. No. We became an organized community.
At once, the political and other controversies that exist in every society disappeared. Everyone came together to protect their home.
I see examples every day, and I never get tired of writing about it.
Address to the US Congress (20 July 2022)Edit
- I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to address the Congress of the United States of America. I know this is the first time when the wife of the president of a foreign country has the honor to address you within these walls. This is really important for me and for my country. And today, I want to address you as politicians and party representatives as well as mothers and fathers — grandmothers and grandfathers, daughters and sons. I want to address you not as First Lady, but as a daughter and as a mother.
No matter what positions and titles we reach in our lives, first of all, we always remain a part of our family. We always remain children to our parents. And no matter how old we are, they love us as their children. And we are always parents to our children. And no matter what happens to them, they will always remain our children. This is the great truth of our life. Our family represents the whole world for us. And we’d do everything to preserve it. And we are happy when we succeed in it, and we cry when we cannot save it. And we remain completely broken when our world is destroyed by a war.
Tens of thousands of such worlds have been destroyed in Ukraine.
- This is Lisa. I met this girl before Christmas when we were preparing readings of Merry Christmas for children. I remember her just like she is here. A cheerful, playful, little rascal. The other video was made by Lisa’s mother, whose name is Irina, when she took her child to school, and she asked her, “Where are we going, sweetie?” The daughter calls the names of her favorite teacher. Lisa was only four years old. She’s no longer with us. Here is the stroller of Lisa. On July 14th, Lisa was killed by a Russian missile attack on our city of Vinica in the center of Ukraine. Twenty-five people killed, almost 200 injured. Lisa’s mother is in serious condition. And for several days, nobody dared to tell her that Lisa has died.
This is where the words, where are we going, have been ringing in my ear for six days, ever since it happened.
- Usually the wives of presidents are exclusively engaged in peaceful affairs: education, human rights, equality, accessibility. And maybe you expected from me to speak on those topics. But how can I talk about them when an unprovoked, invasive terrorist war is being waged against my country. Russia is destroying our people.
- Since the beginning of the war, Russia has launched over 3,000 different cruise missiles on Ukraine, but to destroy somebody’s family, you don’t need a missile. Maybe shrapnel will do it.
- Variant translation: Since the beginning of the war, Russia has launched more than 3,000 different cruise missiles over Ukraine, but to destroy someone's family, you don't even need a missile, a small fragment is enough.
- How many families like this may still be destroyed by the war? Those are Russia’s Hunger Games. Hunting for peaceful people in peaceful cities of Ukraine. They will never broadcast this on their news. That’s why I’m showing it to you here.
- Dear ladies and gentleman, the American people and the American families, the Congress and President Biden have already done a lot to help us to stand up to the enemy and protect millions of Ukrainians. We are grateful, really grateful that the United States stands with us in this fight for our shared values of human life and independence. You help us. And your help is very strong. While Russia kills, America saves. And you should know about it. We thank you for that.
But, unfortunately, the war is not over. The terror continues. And I appeal to all of you on behalf of those who were killed, on behalf of those people who lost their arms and legs, on behalf of those who are still alive and well, and those who wait for their families to come back from the front. I’m asking for something, now I would never want to ask. I’m asking for weapons, weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody’s else’s land, but to protect one’s home in the right to wake up alive in that home, I’m asking for air defense systems in order for rockets not to kill children in their strollers, in order for rockets, not to destroy children’s rooms and kill entire families.
- Variant translation: I appeal to you on behalf of all the dead. On behalf of people who have lost arms and legs. And on behalf of people who are still alive and well. On behalf of those who are fighting and those who are waiting in the rear for the return of their relatives from the front. I'm asking for something now that I never wanted to ask for. I am asking you for weapons! Weapons not for waging war on someone else's land, but to protect our home and the right to wake up in it alive. I am asking you for anti-aircraft defense — so that rockets do not kill children in their strollers. So that they do not destroy children's rooms and entire families.
- We want no more airstrikes. No more missile strikes. Is this too much to ask for?
- "Taking spotlight, Ukrainian first lady pleads for more US arms", KPTX/AP, 20 July 2022