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A comedian who played a president on TV is elected president of the Ukraine

2019-04-22 12:00
 
Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukraine - A comedian whose only political experience consists of playing a president on TV cruised toward a landslide victory in Ukraine's presidential election Sunday in what was seen as a reaction against the country's entrenched corruption and low standard of living.

Results from 52% of polling stations' tallies showed sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy receiving 73% of the vote and President Petro Poroshenko about 25% — a crushing rebuke to Poroshenko's five years in office.

Zelenskiy, 41, became famous nationwide for his comic portrayal in a Ukrainian TV series of a high school teacher who becomes president after a video rant against corruption goes viral. In a case of life imitating television, Zelenskiy denounced graft as a real candidate.

Although Zelenskiy was criticised for a vague campaign platform and never holding public office, voters appeared to cast aside those concerns in favor of a thorough sweep of Ukraine's political leadership.

"I have grown up under the old politicians and only have seen empty promises, lies and corruption," said Lyudmila Potrebko, a 22-year-old computer programmer who voted for Zelenskiy. "It's time to change that."

Even before results started trickling in, Poroshenko accepted defeat based on exit polls, saying: "I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics."

Zelenskiy, for his part, promised wide changes at the top echelons of government and said his No. 1 task would be securing the release of about 170 Ukrainian military members taken prisoner in the east or in Russia.

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