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Ukrainian Comedian Runs for President and Stands a Good Chance

On New Years Eve, Ukrainian comedian, Vladimir Zelenskiy, announced his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections set for Sunday, Mar. 31. Polls indicate that he is a frontrunner in the race, despite a lack of political experience.

Vladimir Zelenskiy. Credit:  Kyiv Post

Vladimir Zelenskiy. Credit: Kyiv Post

Ukraine’s politicians and elections are wrought with corruption, leading to the public’s distrust of the government. With that said, it is possible that running as a more unconventional candidate may bode well for Zelenskiy.

Most Ukrainians believe corruption to be a major issue in the country and have lost faith in the ability of conventional authorities to combat the problem. Current president, Petro Poroshenko, has been widely accused of corruption. Another candidate and former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, recently accused Poroshenko of bribing voters for 1,000 hryvnia, or the equivalent of $37. In response, Poroshenko’s team claimed that the statements were false and that Tymoshenko is actually the one bribing voters. Nonetheless, among the accusations and the doubt it is hard to distinguish corruption from the lack thereof.

Servant of the People Poster. Credit:  instantwatcher

Servant of the People Poster. Credit: instantwatcher

Zelenskiy acts in a popular Ukrainian television show called ‘Servant of the People’. On the show, Zelenskiy plays the role of Vasyl Holoborodko, a high school teacher who becomes president following the release of a video which shows him playing videos of corruption to his students.

Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Credit:  Sputnik

Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Credit: Sputnik

Zelenskiy has business ties with Ihor Kolomoyskyi, owner of the television channel that airs ‘Servant of the People’, which could prove detrimental to his campaign. Zelenskiy has acknowledged the ties, but claims that he is not tied to Kolomoyskyi politically, even though there are rumors that Kolomoyskyi is backing Zelenskiy’s presidential bid. In addition, there is evidence that his production company has ties to Russia which contradicts his previous claim that he severed business ties with Russia

Zelenskiy may be trying to imitate the fictitious life of Vasyl Holoborodko; however, it seems as though his campaign and his various connections will further blur the lines between who and what is corrupt in Ukraine from what is not. With that said, Zelenskiy has a good chance of winning the elections in March due to voter dissatisfaction with the other candidates and overall corruption in conventional politics.