First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska has posted a poignant message Instagram on the occasion of Vyshyvanka (embroided shirt) Day in Ukraine.

She continues to actively support her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, as Ukraine resists Russia’s invasion and occupation. This includes support she provides on the diplomatic front, despite direct threats and danger from Russian forces who view the president as target number one and his wife and family as target number two.

On May 19, Ukraine’s annual patriotic Vyshyvanka Day, Zelenska wrote the following impassioned post on Instagram, accompanied by a photograph of herself wearing a blue and white vyshyvanka.

Olena Zelenska – official Instagram account, May 19, 2022

“Someone pulls out their vyshyvanka, which has miraculously survived, from a closet in a ruined house. Someone else lost theirs when they lost their home. Someone is looking for it in another country, where it was taken by the war. Someone else will wear it in their hometown, where there is finally no shelling. Someone will wear it living under occupation, risking their life. And someone else will wear it for the first time, because it was the first time they felt such a need.


This day has been celebrated by Ukrainians for many years, but the war has filled it with new poignancy. Perhaps for the first time, we feel so acutely the meaning of the famous saying about the ‘embroidered code of the nation.’ For the first time it has become so personal. For the first time, it is about our terrible losses and about our inevitable victory over the enemy and our grief.

Happy Vyshyvanka Day, friends!”

The first lady has not appeared in public for security reasons since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. She has previously said that she communicates with her husband only remotely.

Zelenska nevertheless holds regular meetings with international partners to support Ukraine. On May 8, she met First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, in the south-western Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod.

Meeting of the First Ladies in Uzhhorod, Photo credit: Olena Zelenska, official Facebook page, May 8, 2022.

Zelenska’s latest initiative is to create a national psychological assistance program for Ukrainians who have suffered violence during the occupation, have lost loved ones, and who fought/are fighting in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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