Olena Zelenska: He just never gives up, even when all around him do

“He [Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy] knows how to work with cameras. He is not acting – he just has the skills to do that well. For me, I find it incredibly difficult to speak in public, I get stressed every time, but for him it’s natural,” First Lady Olena Zelenska said in an interview with The Guardian, SİA informs.

Zelenska claims she is not surprised by how impressive her husband has been: “He’s someone who, more than anyone I know, whenever there were situations where everyone says it’s impossible, he always saw it through and got it done, and was able to inspire others, too. He just never gives up, even when all around him do.”

She would see the video clips of her husband, no longer in the civilian suit he was wearing when she last saw him, giving stirring addresses to the Ukrainian people and appealing to international leaders. “I could see that it was all very emotional for him,” she says. “Knowing him, I think he used all the emotional levers he could to get the message across. But it wasn’t manipulation, it was genuine – he would really have these feelings, for sure.”

But, clearly, she is right that something in her husband’s character has turned him into an unexpectedly competent wartime leader. Part of it is certainly his communication skills. “He remembers texts very quickly, and can say them confidently,” she says. “He knows how to work with cameras. He is not acting – he just has the skills to do that well. For me, I find it incredibly difficult to speak in public, I get stressed every time, but for him it’s natural.”

Another ingredient is discipline. Because of his jokey manner and her more austere bearing, people often assume she is the disciplinarian in the relationship while he is the chilled creative. “But, actually, discipline is his middle name,” she says. “The alarm goes off and he gets up, brushes his teeth, gets dressed and leaves, and it takes him five minutes, whereas I’m rolling about for half an hour. He has these qualities, psychologically, to withstand stress and to keep discipline.”

She claims, rather surprisingly, that she has not noticed any difference in his mood over the past months. Does that mean he’s bottling it all up? Is all the stress going to take its toll after the war is over? “I’m not worried for his psychological health, but his physical health – he always gets ill after difficult periods. He relaxes, and then he goes and picks up a virus or something. I am trying to look after him in this regard but, like all men, he doesn’t like to check his temperature or his blood pressure. But I try to get through to him by making a scene.”

“Every Ukrainian is under a huge psychological burden now,” Zelenska says. “Half of our population are living apart from their families. Of course, the majority of us have never lived in these conditions before.” For now, the focus is on beating the Russians, but when the war is over, there will need to be a major programme to heal the nation. “Nobody needs a country that has won, that has fought for its territory, but that is populated by people who can’t live, function or bring up their children normally. There are big dangers ahead of us.”

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