In this article, we’ll look at Volodymyr Zelensky’s height, style and more! Read on to learn about the iconic Ukrainian president.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has captured the attention of the world. A comic-turned political powerhouse, Zelensky has shown immense courage during Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
While some attribute his meteoric rise in popularity to a tightly controlled propaganda campaign, his choice to remain in Kyiv despite many opportunities to flee is evidence of his sincerity.
During the first few days of the invasion, when the US offered to evacuate him to a safer location, he famously said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” He has committed to staying in Kyiv until the end. No matter the outcome of the war.
Many people have questions about this gritty, passionate new figure on the world stage. Here’s some background info and answers to frequently asked questions about Volodymyr Zelensky.
Who Is Volodymyr Zelensky?
A Jew and a native Russian speaker, Volodymyr Oleksandrovich Zelensky was born on January 25th, 1978. He became the president of Ukraine on May 20th, 2019.
Before running for president, Zelensky was a comedian. He was perhaps best known for his role as Vasily Petrovich Goloborodko in the Ukrainian television show Servant of the People (Cлуга Народу).
His character, Vasily, was a high school teacher who, by a strange twist of events, was elected the president of Ukraine. An honest man who was an outsider to politics, Vasily combatted deeply entrenched corruption in the Ukrainian government.
Given his background and since he didn’t have any political experience, when Zelensky ran for president he had to reassure people that his candidacy wasn’t a joke.
His brilliantly run campaign touted him as a bastion of morality that could root out corruption in government. Unlike some previous Ukrainian leaders, Zelensky vowed to help Ukraine fast-track its development into a modern European nation — a nation free from the subversive influences of the Russian Federation.
Some accused him of being under the thumb of a Ukrainian media mogul that contributed to his campaign.
When asked about this claim Zelensky quipped back that if working with oligarchs was an earmark of corruption, with that logic, practically everyone in Ukraine would be corrupt since oligarchs own almost everything in the country.
Zelensky’s platform was that, in many ways, he was just like Vasily Petrovich, his character that everyone knew and loved from TV. In fact, Zelensky even ran as a member of a political party he created, a party with the same name as his show, Servant of the People.
As president, Zelensky has largely kept his campaign promise to fight corruption at all levels of society, as demonstrated by his refusal to accept a bribe offered by American President Donald Trump.
However, about a year after taking office Zelensky’s approval rating dropped because many Ukrainians felt he wasn’t doing enough to end the war in the eastern part of the country.
Immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Zelensky began proving his commitment to defy Russia’s encroachments on Ukrainian sovereignty.
Within days, Zelensky (and quite frankly the entire populace of Ukraine) quickly became an international symbol of rugged resilience.
On March 1st, Zelensky, wearing one of his now-iconic green t-shirts, was met with a standing ovation from the European Parliament the moment he appeared over a video call. He went on to give an impassioned speech, moving his translator to tears as he declared that light would triumph over darkness.
Although it’s too early to tell the outcome of Putin’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine, one thing is certain, Zelensky has earned his place in the history books.
Why Does Zelensky Wear Green T-Shirts?
Since the current invasion of Ukraine began, Zelensky has opted for simple olive drab (green) t-shirts over the typical business suit uniform of most world leaders.
People often associate the olive tee with soldiers, firefighters, and other hard-working individuals. It could be seen as a symbol that Ukraine’s president stands ready to get his hands dirty alongside the citizens of his besieged nation.
Zelensky’s green tee also makes Putin, who doesn’t hide his extravagance, seem even more out of touch by contrast. (Putin reportedly wore a $12,000 oversized puffer jacket to a recent political rally).
Putin hates the West.— Saulė | Сонце 🇱🇹🇺🇦 (@sankuperis) March 18, 2022
Except a jacket for € 11K from a luxury Italian brand🤡 pic.twitter.com/6RtKVvIIF1
Also, in Zelenky’s current situation, wearing a t-shirt is probably much more practical than wearing a suit. For example, I’ve watched interviews of him sitting on the floor and have seen videos of him visiting soldiers in their mess tents.
While, from what I understand, he spends much of his time indoors for his safety, when he does go outside wearing a suit would only draw attention to him. Since there have been several attempts on his life, blending in is to his advantage.
Besides olive drab t-shirts, since the beginning of the invasion Zelensky has also been seen wearing work shirts, quarter-zip sweaters, cargo pants, and military jackets.
Why Is Zelensky Growing a Beard?
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, 2022, Zelensky has been growing out his facial hair. I think there are several reasons why the Ukrainian president is sporting whiskers.
The first, and I think most likely explanation, is that he’s investing the 5 minutes he’d normally spend shaving every day in addressing the undoubtedly countless time-sensitive issues at hand.
He’s in a situation in which a free moment can be used to help save lives.
Also, along with his green tees, by letting his facial grow Zelensky helps build his image within Ukraine as well as internationally.
Beards may help men appear more aggressive and powerful — clear advantages for a military leader.
It seems that Zelensky is developing a sort of warrior ethos and the way he presents himself contributes to that.
By growing his facial hair out since the day when Putin first attacked, as his beard grows longer people wonder (at least subconsciously), “Has Ukraine really been fighting that long?” Each time he’s seen in public his appearance sends a powerful, visual message.
The sentiment of “I won’t cut my beard until Putin backs down” is powerful.
Finally, I’ve read that beards can be difficult to imitate in deep fake videos. Russia has already tried to make deep fakes of Zelensky.
Since there weren’t many, if any publicly available photos of Zelensky with a beard before the invasion, it can be difficult to replicate his bearded face in deep fakes. This is especially true if he keeps growing it out.
Going forward, it will be easy to spot deep fake videos for what they are if, for instance, in the fake video Zelensky has a 1-inch beard when it’s already reached 2.5 inches in real life.
Answers to Common Questions About Zelensky and Ukraine
Here are answers to questions you might have about Zelensky or Ukraine.
How Do You Pronounce Volodymyr Zelensky?
How Tall Is Zelensky?
Zelensky is reported to be 5’7”.
Is Zelensky Taller Than Putin?
Even though a quick Google search will show that Zelensky and Putin are both 5’7”, Zelensky is almost certainly taller than Putin (not that that matters).
While Google says Putin is 5’7”, I don’t think that’s accurate. Then again, it’s hard to tell because the Russian leader is famous for being insecure about his height — his true height seems to be a state secret.
The Kremlin supposedly has a general policy that Putin doesn’t take photos with people taller than him and group photos are carefully staged to make him appear larger-than-life.
Also, Putin wears extremely tall elevator shoes which also gives him a height boost (though there’s nothing wrong with that).
Putin’s real height is probably closer to 5’3” than 5’7”.
Where Is Zelensky From?
Volodymyr Zelensky is from Kryvyi Rih, a city in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (an Oblast is equivalent to a province). Dnipropetrovsk Oblast is in the central-eastern part of Ukraine.
How Old Is Zelensky?
Volodymyr Zelensky is 44 years old.
What Is Zelesnky’s Native Language?
Zelensky’s native language is Russian. He also speaks Ukrainian and English.
As reported by the Kyiv Post, he’s admitted that he’s struggled to learn Ukrainian. “[My] level of [knowledge of] the Ukrainian language, in my opinion, is growing. I know that there are mistakes with accent marks and some words. I want to speak better.”
What Occupation Did Zelensky Have Before Becoming the President of Ukraine?
Before becoming the President of Ukraine in 2019, Zelensky was an actor and comedian.
Why Do Some People Say “The Ukraine?”
Many English speakers say “the Ukraine” instead of simply, “Ukraine.” The use of “the” is incorrect and many Ukrainians actually find it disrespectful (or at least ignorant).
The reason why is because, in the Russian language, the word “krai” means edge or periphery.
For centuries, Ukraine was the edge of the Russian Empire (this is reflected in the word “krai” being embedded in the name of the country). By saying “the Ukraine” you are, in a way, inadvertently referring to Ukraine as “the edge,” which implies the country is a vassal state of Russia.
It’s best just to say Ukraine 😉.
How Do You Pronounce Kyiv? Is the Capital of Ukraine Spelled Kiev or Kyiv?
The capital of Ukraine is properly pronounced “Key-v” (written “Kyiv”) in English. “K-yev” (written “Kiev”) is an approximation of the name for the city in Russian.
In other words, the name of the city has different pronunciations in Russian and in Ukrainian. In English, it’s respectful to use the Ukrainian pronunciation.
Is Zelensky a Hero?
Yes, yes he is.
David Stuart Zelisney says
Volodymyr Zelenskiyy (2 y’s) but transliterated into the Roman alphabet as Ukrainians, of course, use a form of the Cyrillic alphabet. Zelenskiyy is a hero. He is most likely closer to 5’6- in boots. He is visibly aging due to the stress and terrible war going on in his country. A great leader nevertheless. My name, Zelisney, means “from the woods” ie English surname would be “Woods”, French: Dubois; German: Wald; Dutch: Bosch, etc. etc. The original name of this country was “Kyiv Rus'” as in (Russia, Rusyn) but this was appropriated by the “Moskovy Rus” later. Also “Bela Rus”. White Russia. All these east slavic cousins should not be fighting each other but sometimes families do that. Enough of politics. Slava Ukraina.
What is Zelenksi,s religion ?
Ryan Hallstrom says
Great question! Zelensky is ethnically Jewish. In 2020 he told The Times of Israel:
“[I grew up in] an ordinary Soviet Jewish family. Most Jewish families in the Soviet Union were not religious. You know religion didn’t exist in the Soviet state as such.” … “I never speak about religion and I never speak about God because I have my own personal opinion about it. Of course, I believe in God. But I speak with him only in those moments which are personal for me, and important, and where I feel comfortable in those places.”
Check out the full interview for more: https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-serious-man-zelensky-bids-to-address-ukraines-dark-past-brighten-its-future/
So Zelenskyy is 5’7. So what? so am I. Robert Reich is only 4’11, and he is another giant of a man.
Brock, do you get final approval on all articles? Always wondered how it works for your site. As much as I admire President Zelensky, seems like much of the info in the article has been either written about or could be deduced by the average reader (green tees and beard). Would’ve of been more interesting to focus on dichotomy of pre-war/wartime styles between the two opposing leaders who are both short men without delving too far into geopolitics (e.g. Zelensky’s Saucony trainers vs Putin’s elevator shoes).
I approve (or come up with) the topics, but I don’t read every word of every article that’s published. The author of this one, Ryan, is TMM’s senior editor. He’s a history buff who lived in Eastern Europe for a few years, so he’s pretty familiar with Zelensky and what’s going on in that part of the world.
I think your ideas would be a great addition to this article. Maybe we’ll add those in when this article is updated! Thanks for weighing in!