April 4, 2019

Will a comedian take centre stage in Ukraine's next act?

Dramatic rise of comic actor and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky highlights a desire for major change among voters.



On Thursday, April 4 at 19:30 GMT:
In an example of life imitating art, a comic actor famous for playing Ukraine's president in a popular TV series may just become the country's real president – at least if his commanding lead in Sunday's first round of presidential elections is anything to go by.

Volodymyr Zelensky is the clear frontrunner in the race for the Ukrainian presidency, according to preliminary results. Political novice Zelensky cleared the first round way ahead of his nearest rival Petro Poroshenko, who finished narrowly ahead of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ukrainians will now have the opportunity to choose between Zelensky and incumbent president Poroshenko in a final round of voting scheduled for April 21. Zelensky's insurgent run for the presidency has caught the eye of younger voters, many of whom are eager for change amid a grinding conflict in eastern Ukraine that has so far killed 13,000 people and endemic corruption that has dogged Poroshenko's term. While Poroshenko asserts that he is a steady hand who has the experience to steer Ukraine towards the orbit of the European Union and Nato - much to the chagrin of Russia and many Russian-speaking voters in the restive east - Zelensky’s anti-corruption platform is a hit with the electorate as well as a thorn in Poroshenko's side.

With confidence in government at a world-low in Ukraine, the victor of the decisive second round faces a major task to repair and restore trust in the country’s institutions. We'll look at the challenges Ukrainians face and how the next president should alleviate them. Join the conversation.


On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Peter Dickinson @Biz_Ukraine_Mag
Fellow, Atlantic Council

Tamila Varshalomidze @tamila87v
Journalist, Al Jazeera English

Tetiana Shevchuk @ANTAC_ua
Lawyer, Anti-Corruption Action Center


Read more:
A comedian could be Ukraine’s next president. How did that happen? - The Guardian
The big loser in Ukraine’s presidential election? Vladimir Putin - LA Times

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