Photo Credit: Максим Стоялов [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won the Ukrainian presidential election whilst humiliating Petro Poroshenko by winning 73% of the votes.
Zelensky’s predecessor Poroshenko – who said the comedian was too inexperienced to stand up to Russia – saw a crushing defeat on Sunday as he said he would leave office next month having only gained 25% of the vote.
“I’m leaving office, but I want to make it clear that I’m not leaving politics,” he said.
Zelensky is a trained lawyer and made a career as a comedian but has no political experience other than being known for starring, ironically, as the Ukrainian president in a satirical television series called Servant of the People.
After the poll was announced he said he would not “mess up” his chance to make democratic change visible to the rest of the former Soviet Union.
“I say to you, look at us… Everything is possible,” he said.
To appeal to Ukrainian voters Zelensky promised and campaigned to end the entangled corruption within the country and told journalists present he would “reboot” a process of democratic change with separatists fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region.
The 41-year-old said: “I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case we will continue in the direction of the Minsk [peace] talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire.”
Throughout Poroshenko’s five-year presidency it is thought corruption and war with Russia were at their zenith, with separatist rebels in the east killing more than 13,000 people.
But Poroshenko – despite his failures – continued to suggest the new president was not fit to be in office.
In a tweet, he wrote: “a new inexperienced Ukrainian president… could be quickly returned to Russia’s orbit of influence”.
It is clear, however, that the UK government is on the comedian president’s side, with both the prime minister and foreign secretary congratulating Zelensky on Twitter.
Theresa May said she would support Ukraine in their bid for sovereignty and Jeremy Hunt referred to Zelensky’s comedic career.
“You will now truly be the Servant of the People,” Hunt said, “We look forward to working together as the UK continues to support Ukraine, her chosen Euro-Atlantic path, reform process and security.”