Accidental Prez

first_imgIrony gasped when the ‘Servant Of The People’ actually ended up being just that. In a very interesting turn of events, a comedian with absolutely no political moorings has been elected as the President of Ukraine with 73 per cent votes. Volodymyr Zelenskiy became a phenomenon with his landslide electoral victory in the Ukrainian Presidential polls announcing the departure of the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko. The 41-year-old comedian, as though prophetically, starring in a political satirical drama called ‘Servant Of The People’ (streaming on Netflix) plays a character that accidentally becomes the President of Ukraine. This remarkable win is viewed as one against social injustice, corruption, and a war with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has claimed over 13000 lives. As the world looks on, the President-elect has his platter of issues ready before him. His policies are eagerly looked forward to. Zelenskiy will assume office in about a month’s time and among the primary questions already swirling around him are about his policy position towards Russia. Zelenskiy is a native Russian speaker and critiques accuse him of having a soft stance towards Russian aggression: mainly the support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He is also accused of accepting funds and financial assistance from the Kremlin and has been touted as the preferred choice of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has had a rocky relation with the outgoing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Zelenskiy’s previous on and off friendly inclination to Russia and the criticism he attracted from the Russian media seem passé before the promises he made to the people of Ukraine proper to the polls. The promise to bring home 24 Ukrainian sailors under arrest in Russia after being captured in a naval incident near Crimea earlier this year is claimed to be his number one priority; he has stated that talks are unavoidable between Ukraine and Russia because there’s a “real war” between the countries, adding that “there can’t be any compromise on Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence. “We don’t sell our people and we don’t sell our territories.” This boldness is quite a turnaround from what he said in March 2014: “I really want to address Mr. Putin. Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! Do not allow even the hint of a military conflict to happen. Because Russia and Ukraine really are brotherly nations… If you want, I can beg you on my knees. But please, do not put our people on their knees.” Allegations and controversies apart, the intensity of Zelenskiy’s thumping victory speaks more loudly of the fact that the public wants a change more than anything else.last_img

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