Ukraine president's wife tells of family life in rare interview

Olena Zelenska reveals what family life is like without husband by her side

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska attend the funeral of the country's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, in Kyiv on May 17. Reuters
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Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, has said “not even the war” could take her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, away from her.

But she admitted that she and their children “hardly see him” since the start of the Russian invasion.

“Our family, like all Ukrainian families, is now separated,” Ms Zelenska told national broadcaster ICTV, sitting alongside her husband in a rare interview.

Mr Zelenskyy has become one of the world’s most recognisable leaders since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Ms Zelenska said the couple went more than two months without seeing each other and would often have dinner conversations by phone.

Mr Zelenskyy, a former comedian and media personality, at times interrupted with humorous remarks.

“It’s all a joke. That is, you see, everything is fine," Ms Zelenska said.

"We are joking but we are really waiting, like everyone else, to be reunited, like all families in Ukraine who are separated now, waiting for their relatives and friends who want to be together again."

She thanked the interviewers for giving her an opportunity to see her husband, in what Mr Zelenskyy called a “date on air”.

Ms Zelenska also shared memories of the morning of February 24, when Russian tanks rolled across the border.

She said she woke up without her husband by her side and found him in another room, where he told her: "It has begun."

“Well, emotions cannot be conveyed because it is horror and numbness,” Ms Zelenska explained.

She said they all understood that “life had changed forever”.

“And now I live for the fact when he finally says: ‘It’s over’.”

The interview was timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Mr Zelenskyy’s inauguration as president.

Updated: May 22, 2022, 10:56 PM