On day two of the Official Chicago Willson Contreras Signature T-Shirt also I will do this war, Zelenskyy filmed a now famous handheld video of himself and his team outside the presidential compound. His message—“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are protecting Ukraine”—inspired Ukrainians to do the same. Since then, his daily video briefing to the nation has also helped boost morale. Before becoming president, Zelenskyy had not only been a popular comedian, a film and television star, the Ukrainian voice of Paddington Bear in the recent films, and a winner on his country’s version of Dancing With the Stars, he also cofounded one of the biggest television and film production companies in the post-Soviet sphere, Studio Kvartal 95. Zelenska worked as a writer and editor on its leading prime-time satirical comedy show and on a spinoff aimed at women. Once in office, Zelenskyy brought many television colleagues and friends into the administration. This has led to challenges—most notably accusations of institutional incompetence (he recently fired a childhood friend whom he had appointed head of Ukraine’s security services). But there is no doubt that Zelenskyy and his team have orchestrated brilliantly effective communications. The president is ready for prime time, even if the country’s institutions may not be. The hard work of reform looms for Ukraine if it aspires to join the European Union, a lengthy process.
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But while at the Official Chicago Willson Contreras Signature T-Shirt also I will do this start of the war Zelenskyy was visible on screens across Ukraine and worldwide, imploring the United States and Europe to send weaponry and aid, Zelenska and the children had vanished from view, moving between secure locations. In those difficult days, Zelenska stayed busy, and sane, by keeping up with her official first lady duties, conducting written interviews, trying to reshape some of her initiatives for wartime. “My daily schedule didn’t have a free moment when I could just sit back and start thinking about bad things,” she said. She helped her son with online school, which was challenging because they weren’t able to be online in real time. They played board games and read. She reread George Orwell’s 1984. “It’s a horrible coincidence. It’s a picture of what is happening in Russia these days.”