Professional Comedian Wins Ukrainian Presidency

By Alex Madajian | April 23, 2019 | 11:18am EDT
Ukraine's newly elected president,
Volodymyr Zelenskiy. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a professional comedian, was elected as the new president of Ukraine on April 21 with 73.2% of the vote, according to the final exit polls as reported in the Kyiv Post. The incumbent, President Petro Poroshenko, only earned 25.3% of the vote. 

After winning, Zelenskiy, 41, announced to his supporters outside of campaign headquarters, “I will never fail you…. While I’m not yet president, I can say the following to all post-Soviet countries: Look at us. Everything is possible.”

Zelenskiy reportedly has “avoided substantial policy discussions.” However,  on April 19 he told Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, "I'm not a politician…. I'm just an ordinary person who has come to break the system.”

Outgoing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

His rise in popularity ironically came by starring in a TV show as a teacher who unexpectedly rises to become the president of Ukraine.

Zelenskiy’s victory is impressive because of the reported rise in anti-Semitism in the Ukraine during 2018. Zelenskiy is Jewish. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported in early 2018 that, “Ukraine had more anti-Semitic incidents than all former Soviet countries combined.”

Poroshenko, as reported by RFE/RL, said, "It's important to be guided by reason, not laughs. It could be funny [at] first, but pain may come later." A vote for Zelenskiy could mean "the return of Ukraine back to the influence of the Russian Empire,” said Poroshenko.

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