Who is Volodymyr Zelenskyy? From comedian to war leader

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was elected president almost three years ago, has transformed himself from an overwhelmed political newcomer into a convincing war leader on the world stage.

The 44-year-old self-proclaimed populist, who was elected in a landslide victory in 2019, has rallied the people of Ukraine in the face of a full-scale invasion by Russian forces. He artfully used his skills as an actor and performer in his speeches and video selfies to give a voice to “Ukrainian anger and resistance to Russian aggression,” he said BBC.

war leader

A “key moment” in his transformation from “poll-floundering leader” to “national figurehead” came in the early hours of Thursday, just before Russian invasion started. In a matter-of-fact media address, he said he tried to call the Russian president Wladimir Putin to avoid war, but his attempts at dialogue were only answered with “silence” by the Kremlin.

Speaking in Russian, he said that Ukraine and Russia don’t need a war, “not a cold war, not a hot war, not a hybrid war.” But Zelenskyy added that Ukraine would defend itself if attacked. “If you attack us, you will see our faces. Not our backs, but our faces.”

It was the first glimpse of Ukraine’s president “proving himself convincingly in an unlikely new role: as an inspirational war leader,” he said The Sunday Times. In subsequent broadcasts, he appeared “grim and visibly exhausted, his suit and tie long since replaced by a khaki T-shirt,” but he still wanted to emphasize that he and the Ukrainian people “face the enemy together,” the paper said.

As Russian troops approached on Friday night, he recorded a short video debunking rumors he had fled the capital and filmed himself in the process Kyiv and surrounded by his ministers. “We are all here,” he told the Ukrainians, “we are protecting our independence, our state. And that will continue to be the case. Glory to our defenders. Glory to Ukraine!”

He reportedly turned down a US offer to evacuate Kyiv on Saturday, telling American officials he needed “ammo, not a ride.”

His decision to remain in the capital was “an act of courage that has already changed the course of history,” he said Time Magazine.

In so doing, “he incited the US and its allies to impose unprecedented penalties on Russia, crash the ruble and decouple much of its economy from the rest of the world,” according to the magazine.

The West was thrown into action. Germany has increased its military spending by 100 billion euros, shedding “a post-war tradition of pacifism that has long frustrated allies.” Switzerland, meanwhile, has broken with its “tradition of neutrality to support sanctions,” while the EU “agreed to put Ukraine on the path to membership and shatter decades of internal resistance.”

Early Life and Choice

Born in 1978 in the city of Kryvyi Rih in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian leader studied law before becoming a comedian.

He became famous among Ukrainians after getting a role in the sitcom servant of the people, in which he – ironically – played a fictional teacher-turned-president. As the show grew in popularity, he helped found a political party of the same name and was chosen as its nominee for the 2019 presidential election.

Zelenskyy, who initially lagged behind in the polls, slowly gained momentum by appealing to voters fed up with entrenched corruption, low living standards and years of political upheaval BBCsaid Jonah Fisher before the vote.

“He tore up the campaign rules, held no rallies and few interviews, and instead used social media to reach out to younger voters,” he added. “He doesn’t seem to have strong political views beyond a desire to be new and different.”

At the ballot box, he faced off against controversial, sharply anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko, who came to power in 2014 after a violent coup against his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych. Despite Poroshenko’s warning that Zelenskyy was inexperienced and that Ukraine “could quickly be returned to Russia’s sphere of influence” under the comedian’s rule, Zelenskyy stormed to victory with 73% of the vote in a landslide victory. against incumbent Poroshenko.

record in power

After enjoying the support of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyy during his presidential campaign, some feared Zelenskyy was nothing more than a “puppet leader controlled by a man under investigation in the US for possible fraud and money laundering,” the BBC said.

But Zelenskyy has proved in many ways “more independent than skeptics thought,” although “corruption remains ingrained in Ukraine” and some Western officials fear that Zelenskyy’s corruption charges against his predecessor Poroshenko are “politically motivated.” “ be.

The “boldness of Zelenskyy’s stand for Ukraine’s sovereignty” is perhaps unexpected from a man “whose greatest political burden for many years has been a feeling that he was too inclined to seek compromise with Moscow,” he said Associated Press.

During the presidential campaign, Zelenskyi said he would negotiate peace with Russia, which occupied Crimea in 2014 and is supporting separatist movements in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, sparking a conflict that has already killed an estimated 15,000 people.

But his attempts to negotiate with Russia met with only limited success. Zelenskyy managed to broker a prisoner exchange and implement parts of the Minsk accords, but his “reconciliation efforts foundered” amid Putin’s “insistence that Ukraine withdraws from the West.”

As his approval ratings in Ukraine plummeted – by as much as 20% in some polls – he began “to adopt a more assertive tone as he pushed for membership of the European Union and the NATO military alliance,” the BBC said, “a step , which is bound to anger the Russian President”.

But in the last week, Ukraine and the world have seen the former comedian transform from “a provincial politician with delusions of grandeur into a true statesman,” wrote Melinda Haring of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center for Foreign Affairs.

Although Zelenskyy’s failure to reform Ukraine so far may be “serious” — his party has spent much of 2021 “dragging its feet on much-needed judicial and anti-corruption reforms,” ​​he has shown “a stiff upper lip” in the face of it Putin’s aggression.

“He has displayed tremendous physical courage, refusing to sit in a bunker but openly traveling with soldiers, and an unwavering patriotism few would have expected from a Russian speaker from eastern Ukraine,” Haring wrote. Zelenskyy, “to his great credit, was immobile,” she said.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/103500/who-is-volodymyr-zelensky-from-comedy-to-impeachment-scandal Who is Volodymyr Zelenskyy? From comedian to war leader

Fry Electronics Team

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