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Zelenska accepts award for Ukrainian people before WH visit

The first lady of Ukraine largely disappeared with the couple’s two children during the first months after the invasion but emerged in May to greet Jill Biden.

WASHINGTON — Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, on Tuesday accepted a human rights award on behalf of the people of Ukraine in recognition of their fight against Russia's invasion of their country.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation recognized the Ukrainian people with its Dissident Human Rights Award. Zelenska, who is visiting Washington this week, accepted the award in person.

“It is an honor to be here and accept this award in the name of every Ukrainian man and woman fighting Russian aggression today,” she said, speaking through a translator.

Her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has won admiration from Ukrainians and Ukraine’s supporters abroad by staying put in the capital, Kyiv, after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his attack on Ukraine in late February.

Zelenska largely disappeared with the couple’s two children during the first months after the invasion but emerged from seclusion May 8 to greet U.S. first lady Jill Biden, who had been traveling in eastern Europe and made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine to meet her counterpart.

Zelenska was due at the White House later Tuesday to meet with Jill Biden. Michael LaRosa, a spokesperson for Biden, said the women would discuss continued U.S. support for Ukraine and its people as they defend their democracy and cope with the fallout from Russia's war.

Credit: AP
Olena Zelenska, spouse of Ukrainian's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, accepts the Dissident Human Rights Award at the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

On Wednesday, Zelenska will address members of Congress in an auditorium at the Capitol, following a similar appearance by her husband at an earlier stage of the war.

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