‘We got their president!’ When the Russians met Volodymyr Zelensky, a 64-year-old retired Soviet soldier in Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelensky, a namesake of the Ukrainian president with no known relationship to him, has spent most of the war days hiding from bombardment in the basement of his house. He’s been terrified of an encounter with the Russians.
Back in April, Russian forces knocked on the door of a 64-year-old retired Soviet soldier in eastern Ukraine. The man, who had been in hiding in his basement since the war began in February, was terrified. One of the soldiers looked at his identification, which read ‘Volodymyr Zelensky’, although he bore no resemblance to Ukraine’s president.
“It’s okay guys, the war is over,” the soldier said, reported Agence France-Presse. “We can go home — we got their president!”
Volodymyr Zelensky, a namesake of the Ukrainian president with no known relationship to him, spent most of the war days hiding from bombardment in the basement of his house. Born in 1958 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, then part of the Soviet Union, Zelensky served as a driver in the Soviet army and then worked in construction.
When Russian soldiers came knocking, Volodymyr Zelensky was terrified — until they saw his passport and burst out laughing
The retiree, who has no known relationship to Ukraine's president, refused to leave his village, now pounded by Russian artilleryhttps://t.co/YtbsXEUfbD pic.twitter.com/zSV9gEsAB7
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) October 27, 2022
Valentina Zelenska, his wife, said Zelensky was a common surname in Ukraine, as well as in Russia, but admits she has never known any other ‘Volodymyr Zelensky’ until Ukraine’s current leader, a former comedian, was elected president in 2019.
Zelenska, 72, is alarmed whenever there is a blast outside, fearing their village is being attacked by Russian artillery.
She evacuated to western Ukraine at the start of the war, but her husband refused to leave the home he purchased 20 years ago. He described the former mining town as a place where he could finally breathe “the purest air”. Zelenska returned home after Kyiv’s forces expelled the Russians from the village late last month.
Zelensky voted for his namesake in the election. But now he is disappointed the president is not doing more to negotiate an end to the war with Russia. Like many residents of his generation in the eastern Donbas region, Zelensky considers Ukraine to be his homeland. But the former soldier says the Soviet regime brought peace and prosperity to his generation.
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