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Ukraine’s impressive first couple: Now their love and courage and are so vital to their country

Olena and Volodymyr Zelensky

… they once laughed at him — for good reasons

Not long ago, Ukrainians were laughing at Volodymyr Zelensky — for good reason. He was a popular comedian and actor in the country, but now, he is admired throughout the world for his courage and tenacity in the wake of an attack by the world’s second-most nuclear power.

And his wife and family are so revered in the country, that many care more about them than about themselves.

This just a few years after a previous American president refused to give the new president weapons by which he could defend himself.

It is an interesting process for the now world-acclaimed leader.

How did he reach this point?

Zelensky’s background as a celebrity did not bode well for his performance as a defender of his country. Other celebrity presidents like those in the United States notoriously did not serve in the military, and while Zelensky has not either, his courage and public leadership of his country have been impressive,

The clip, which went up Friday and has been endlessly shared, looks like something out of an action flick — particularly the version that has been overdubbed with “Shook Ones, Part II” by rap duo Mobb Deep, which has been viewed more than 6 million times. Noted one Twitter user, “I can just see the movie version of this video in my head.”

That may not be coincidental. Before Zelensky became the president of Ukraine in May 2019, he was a comedian and actor, something of an all-purpose celebrity in the country. Now, he’s become a wartime hero, a leader who refuses to flee his country despite the Russian onslaught of the capital city of Kyiv, in the biggest European conflict since World War II.

Travis M. Andrews and Ashley Fetters Maloy, “Zelensky’s past as an entertainer may have prepared him for his most crucial role,” Washington Post, February 28, 2022

He has united the world against a common enemy, and even those European countries that have traditionally been non-partisan are supporting his country.

First Lady is also beloved

The photos of the couple have been everywhere on social media. Everyone wants to know more about them.

Olena Volodymyrivna Zelenska studied architecture and is the mother of two sons. As First Lady, she has shied away from too much publicity, but she is included on the recent lists of the most influential Ukrainians.

However, she became a writer instead of an architect, which is what probably one of the many attributes that attracted her husband to her since he was always looking for good copy in the early days.

Their courtship lasted for eight years and were finally married in 2003. They have two children: a daughter, Aleksandra, born in 2004, and a son, Kiril, in 2013.

She was hospitalized with Covid in 2020, but has since recovered.

His past is now an asset to his leadership

While some who claimed after he defeated the incumbent president that he did not have the skills to handle the presidency of one of Europe’s largest countries, many are now touting his skills that he has used in recent weeks,

While they might seem jarring in light of the current war, his years as an entertainer seem to have prepared him for this moment. Since Russia’s invasion, Zelensky has continued posting videos meant to inspire and rally Ukrainians — and the rest of the world — to great fanfare.

“I think Zelensky’s past as an actor and comedian is integral to his management of the situation at hand right now. He’s used to being in front of a camera. He’s used to performing,” said Samuel Woolley, an assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s school of journalism. “While before this conflict his poll numbers were pretty low, they’ve skyrocketed. And that’s because he’s been able to use his strengths during this conflict.”

Travis M. Andrews and Ashley Fetters Maloy, “Zelensky’s past as an entertainer may have prepared him for his most crucial role,” Washington Post, February 28, 2022

He earned a landslide win over the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, in 2019.

Born to Jewish parents

Zelensky is native of the southern Ukraine. His parents were Jewish, and he grew up speaking Russian but is fluent in English and Ukrainian. He was educated at the Kylv National Economic University, and he graduated in 2003 with a law degree.

However, while in college, he became very interested in theatre, and by 1997, he was part of a performance group that became popular. He was very good at improvisational comedy, and he ultimately founded one of Ukraine’s most successful entertainment studios.

Zelensky then appeared in films, and in 2013, he was cast as Vasilly Goloborodko, a history teacher who learned to operate the world of social media. The show became a huge hit in the country.

However, it was actually one that foreshadowed the political career of Zelensky,

The show was a massive hit, and Goloborodko’s unlikely path to the presidency of Ukraine would provide something of a road map for Zelensky. In anticipation of that move, in 2018 Kvartal 95 officially registered Servant of the People as a political party in Ukraine.

With the Ukrainian economy stalled and Poroshenko’s approval rating approaching single digits, it seemed likely that the 2019 presidential election would be a repeat of the 2014 contest, with the incumbent facing Orange Revolution veteran Yulia Tymoshenko. Instead, more than three dozen candidates entered the race, and Zelensky emerged as one of the front-runners virtually from the moment of the declaration of his candidacy.

That announcement was made on 1+1 on December 31, 2018, preempting Poroshenko’s annual New Year’s address. The provocative move raised questions about the involvement of 1+1 owner Kolomoisky in Zelensky’s campaign. Kolomoisky, formerly a staunch Poroshenko ally, had been living in self-imposed exile since June 2017, after Poroshenko nationalized PrivatBank, a financial institution that Kolomoisky had cofounded.

Kolomoisky was accused of stealing billions from PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, and the Ukrainian government was forced to inject more than $5.6 billion into the “too big to fail” company to keep it afloat.

Encyclopedia Brittanica

The First Lady

He ultimately won 73 percent of the vote after running on an anti-corruption platform, and now is regarded as a very courageous man.

Zelensky refuses to leave the country as many as advocating, saying that leaders must be in the forefront of the fight.

The first couple, and their children, are symbols today of what is most important in Ukraine.

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