Jul 20, 2022
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska addresses Congress on continuing Russian invasion 7/20/22 Transcript
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska addresses Congress on continuing Russian invasion 7/20/22. Read the transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
And they confront unconscionable atrocities. And the Congress remains with the Ukraine as it fights to defend democracy, not only for its people, but for the world. We are honored to be joined by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, who traveled here from the heart of the war zone. We look forward to hearing her report on security, economic, and humanitarian conditions on the ground. Madam, thank you also to… for ambassador Oksana Markarova for joining us today. Madam Ambassador, thank you for joining us.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:41)
Sitting there with our minority and majority leaders of the House. And we welcome the majority leader of the Senate…. Republican leader of the Senate, Senator McConnell as well, and members of the Senate to the House side. Well, we’re in the middle of the capital. Madam First Lady, I present to you members of the United States Congress, strong supporters of the Ukrainian people, and great admirers of you and your husband’s leadership. Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you First Lady Olena Zelenska [foreign language 00:01:20]. We have our leaders here [inaudible 00:01:21].
Olena Zelenska: (01:20)
Nancy Pelosi: (01:21)
Olena Zelenska: (02:10)
Good morning. [foreign language 00:02:14]
Olena Zelenska: (02:15)
Dear Madam Speaker, dear members of the US Congress, ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and to address the Congress of the United States of America. I know this is the first time when the wife of the president of a foreign country has the honor to address you within these walls. This is really important for me and for my country. And today, I want to address you as politicians and party representatives as well as mothers and fathers-
Olena Zelenska: (02:57)
Grandmothers and grandfathers, daughters and sons. I want to address you not as First Lady, but as a daughter and as a mother. No matter what positions and titles we reach in our lives, first of all, we always remain a part of our family. We always remain children to our parents. And no matter how old we are, they love us as their children. And we are always parents to our children. And no matter what happens to them, they will always remain our children. This is the great truth of our life. Our family represents the whole world for us. And we’d do everything to preserve it. And we are happy when we succeed in it, and we cry when we cannot save it. And we remain completely broken when our world is destroyed by a war.
Olena Zelenska: (03:58)
Tens of thousands of such worlds have been destroyed in Ukraine. I am waiting for a picture to be demonstrated. This is Lisa. I met this girl before Christmas when we were preparing readings of Merry Christmas for children. I remember her just like she is here. A cheerful, playful, little rascal. The other video was made by Lisa’s mother, whose name is Irina, when she took her child to school, and she asked her, “Where are we going, sweetie?” The daughter calls the names of her favorite teacher. Lisa was only four years old. She’s no longer with us. Here is the stroller of Lisa. On July 14th, Lisa was killed by a Russian missile attack on our city of Vinica in the center of Ukraine. Twenty-five people killed, almost 200 injured. Lisa’s mother is in serious condition. And for several days, nobody dared to tell her that Lisa has died. This is where the words, where are we going, have been ringing in my ear for six days, ever since it happened.
Olena Zelenska: (05:20)
Usually the wives of presidents are exclusively engaged in peaceful affairs: education, human rights, equality, accessibility. And maybe you expected from me to speak on those topics. But how can I talk about them when an unprovoked, invasive terrorist war is being waged against my country. Russia is destroying our people. Here is another rocket launch. And here is the city of Okhotsk in the south of Ukraine. The residential area was hit by a missile. This girl is Eva. She liked to draw pictures. She was only five. Another Russian missile, Eva was killed along with her grandmother.
Olena Zelenska: (06:18)
These young faces are the faces of employees and visitors of the shopping mall in Kremenchuk. They are no more. And there is no shopping mall because the Russian rocket burned them down and killed them all. This is a journalist. Her name is Vera. She has worked in the Ukrainian media for 20 years. The last four years in the Kiev Bureau of Radio Liberty. She died in Kiev from another missile attack. Since the beginning of the war, Russia has launched over 3,000 different cruise missiles on Ukraine, but to destroy somebody’s family, you don’t need a missile. Maybe shrapnel will do it.
Olena Zelenska: (07:06)
This name is Andre. Fortunately, he’s alive. He’s now in Germany. He is three years old. A few days ago, he celebrated his birthday on the 8th of July. You may ask, what is he doing in Germany? He is learning there, how to use prosthesis, a 3-year-old boy. A Russian plane dropped a bomb on the house where the family of Andre spent the night. He was there together with his parents and his sister. And how many children like him are there in Ukraine? How many families like this may still be destroyed by the war? Those are Russia’s Hunger Games. Hunting for peaceful people in peaceful cities of Ukraine. They will never broadcast this on their news. That’s why I’m showing it to you here.
Olena Zelenska: (08:03)
Here is the family of a policeman [foreign language 00:08:06] Fideck. His father, mother, wife, 6-year-old daughter, as well as 1-1/2-month-old son. All of them were shot by the Russian fighters in a car, when they were trying to evacuate from [inaudible 00:08:26]. Then, I met with Oleck. He said… He told me that terrible story. The adults died right away, while children for next one and a half hours were crying in the car until they died. Nobody was allowed to approach them to save them.
Olena Zelenska: (08:51)
Here is Sofia. The girl from [inaudible 00:08:53], who lost her mother during the occupation and her arm. And now she’s suffering from phantom pains. The family of Olga Suhkenka, she was the village head in Kiev, who saved her fellow villagers from the Russian invaders, who then was killed by Russians, along with her son and husband. The family from Odessa were three generations of women, killed by one missile. Valeria Holoden, her mother, and 3-month-old daughter.
Olena Zelenska: (09:30)
And a 96-year-old, Borys Romanchenko. This person survived four Nazi concentration camps, including Buchenwald and died in Othotsk from Russian shell.
Olena Zelenska: (09:47)
So, dear ladies and gentleman, the American people and the American families, the Congress and President Biden have already done a lot to help us to stand up to the enemy and protect millions of Ukrainians. We are grateful, really grateful that the United States stands with us in this fight for our shared values of human life and independence. You help us. And your help is very strong. While Russia kills, America saves. And you should know about it. We thank you for that.
Olena Zelenska: (10:43)
But, unfortunately, the war is not over. The terror continues. And I appeal to all of you on behalf of those who were killed, on behalf of those people who lost their arms and legs, on behalf of those who are still alive and well, and those who wait for their families to come back from the front. I’m asking for something, now I would never want to ask. I’m asking for weapons, weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody’s else’s land, but to protect one’s home in the right to wake up alive in that home, I’m asking for air defense systems in order for rockets not to kill children in their strollers, in order for rockets, not to destroy children’s rooms and kill entire families. I know that you, ladies and gentlemen, will be leaving for the traditional congressional recess in a week.
Olena Zelenska: (11:42)
And all of you will be able to return to your offices in the fall. And probably all of you have already your calendar and schedule for September. This is normal. And it is precisely this normalcy that we Ukrainians are deprived of now. Will my son able to return to his school in the fall? I don’t know, like millions on mothers in Ukraine. Will my daughter be able to go to university at the beginning of the academic year and experience normal student life? I cannot answer. What should Ukrainian teachers prepare for? To work in classrooms or in bomb shelters? We would have answers if we had air defense systems.
Olena Zelenska: (12:31)
In fact, the answer is right here in Washington, DC. America, unfortunately, knows from its own experience what terrorist attacks are and has always sought to defeat terror, help us to stop this terror against Ukrainians. And this will be our joint, great victory in the name of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, of every person, every family. This is what I’m asking for and what my husband is asking for. Not as a presidential couple, but as parents and children of their parents.
Olena Zelenska: (13:14)
Because we want every father and every mother to be able to tell their child, go to sleep peacefully, there will be no more air strikes, no more missile strikes. Is this too much to wish for? The fact that I am here as the First Lady of my country and have this opportunity to talk to you about weapon is a manifestation of the greatest equality. This is the equality among free people. People who know what they are protecting. They know what they live for. I hope you heard me today, and I hope that your decisions will be speedy. Thank you for your attention. Glory to Ukraine.