Ukraine comedian Zelensky wins presidency in landslide
KIEV- Agence France- Presse
A comedian with no political experience won a landslide victory in Ukraine's presidential election, drawing congratulations from global leaders while dealing a stunning rebuke to his country's political establishment.
Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only previous political role was playing the president in a TV show, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko by taking 73.2 percent of the vote, according to nearly complete official results released on April 22.
It was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by social injustice, corruption and a war with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 13,000 lives.
The star of the TV series "Servant of the People" will now take the helm of a country of 45 million people beset by challenges and having run on the vaguest of political platforms.
"I will never let you down," Zelensky told jubilant supporters at his campaign headquarters where he was showered with glittering confetti.
"I can tell all post-Soviet countries: 'Look at us! Everything is possible!'," he declared.
The remark appeared aimed at neighboring Russia, where Vladimir Putin has been in power for 20 years and many followed the Ukrainian election with keen interest.
Congratulations poured in from Europe and beyond, with French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland's Andrzej Duda congratulating the Ukrainian president-elect by phone.
"You will now truly be the Servant of the People," said British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on Twitter, pledging London's support.
"We congratulate President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky," the US embassy in Ukraine said on Twitter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 22 congratulated Zelensky too.
"The stabilization of Ukraine and a peaceful conflict resolution are as close to my heart as the implementation of central reforms of the judiciary, decentralization and the fight against corruption," her statement said.
Moscow has a chance of improving ties with Ukraine under the leadership of Zelensky, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on April 22, adding however that he has "no illusions.”