"Nobody takes my husband from me, not even the war."
Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, has had to spend the last two and a half months away from her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but her place remains firmly beside him, even in such a difficult time.
She tells it herself, in a rare television interview.
It is the second time since the war that the two have shown themselves together.
The first, a few days ago, when Olena and her husband, dressed in mourning, attended the funeral of the first Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk in Kiev.
Before that, the first lady remained in a secret place for a long time for security reasons, as in the early days of the Zelensky invasion he was the number one target of Moscow, and therefore her family number two.
In the interview, Zelensky and his wife are seated with two Ukrainian journalists at a round table, set for afternoon tea, with cups, ceramic teapot and biscuits.
Zelensky is wearing the usual military uniform, his wife is in a beige jacket and a military green shirt.
"Our family is destroyed, like any Ukrainian family," Zelenska explains.
"But no one takes my husband from me, not even the war", she replies decisively to the journalist who asks her if the war has taken him away in some way.
Even if he then adds: "Yes, he lives for his work and we hardly get to see him. We haven't seen him at all for two and a half months. We just talked to each other on the phone", says the first lady, 44 years old. , mother of two children aged 17 and 9.
So thanks to the TV, which allows them a '
"I am very grateful for this occasion because this interview allows us to spend time together", says Olena, moving her smiling gaze towards her husband, who in turn adds, laughing: "Yes, a date on TV ... Thank you".
Almost three months have passed since the day the war broke out, but Zelenska relives it as if it were yesterday: "I remember waking up with strange sounds outside, as probably happened to everyone. It was dark, almost night, and I saw that Volodymyr was not next to me. I went into the next room and he was already dressed in a suit, but without a tie. I asked him, 'What's going on?'
And he replied: 'It has begun'. I can't describe the emotions, anxiety, amazement. He told me this and left. After-he concludes-we haven't seen each other for a long time. "
In recent months, Olena, a screenwriter originally from Kryvyi Rih, like Volodymyr, whom she met in college - she studied architecture, he reads - and then married in 2003, has been seen little in public (one of the few appearances, the surprise encounter with the wife of US President Jill Biden in a school in Ukraine), but has continued its commitment with appeals and interviews, especially for injured, sick and refugee Ukrainian children.
Children are the protagonists of a touching video just published by Zelenska on social media to tell about the many Ukrainians who took refuge in Poland and who dream of returning to their country: "We will return - assures the first lady - because there is nothing better than going home ".