Comedian tops Ukraine presidential polls

Comedian tops Ukraine presidential polls

Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy remains the frontrunner in opinion polls ahead of the March 31 presidential election.

The Kiev International Institute of Sociology said the 41-year-old political newcomer had 15.4-per-cent support. The institute interviewed 2,042 voters across the war-torn country, omitting Crimea which was seized by Russia in 2014.

Zelensky stars in a popular television series, Servant of the People, in which he plays a history teacher who is elected president after a tirade about official corruption goes viral.

He is one of the most recognised faces on Ukrainian screens after more than 20 years as a comedian, actor and producer. But other than playing the president on his show, Zelensky has no political experience.

According to this week’s poll, the current president, Petro Poroshenko, was languishing on 10.5 per cent and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (pictured), a former prime minister, was on 8 per cent.

Another Tymoshenko is also standing after paying the US$92,000 required to secure a place on the ballot paper.

Yuriy Tymoshenko, who denies that he is on the ballot paper to trick careless voters into backing the wrong Tymoshenko, declared an annual family income of around US$10,000 with no extra assets.

Currently, 44 candidates are set to compete and if no one wins 50-per-cent support, as polls predict, the two leaders would face each other in a runoff vote on April 21.

Only the two finalists get their money back.

In order to stand, candidates must be over 35, have Ukrainian citizenship, speak the language and have lived in the country for the last 10 years.

Yuriy Volodymyrovich Tymoshenko will be next to Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko on the huge ballot paper, sparking allegations that he is a clone candidate.

“I announced [my candidacy] on my Facebook page two years ago, a long time before Yulia did. And I’m going to win,” he tells the BBC.

He said he borrowed the presidential election registration fee. “It’s worth the risk. I’m doing this to change the lives of every Ukrainian,” Tymoshenko said.
Another unlikely candidate is Roman Nasirov, the former head of the state fiscal service, who is on trial for corruption.

And hopeful Volodymyr Petrov is under house arrest after being accused of creating a Facebook sex scandal.


Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Picture credit: Wikimedia


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