Comedian Vladimir Zelensky has taken an early lead in the presidential election in Ukraine with nearly 30% of the vote after 11 percent of the ballots counted. The runner-up is incumbent President Petro Poroshenko with 16.7 %.
Zelensky, a newcomer in politics, campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and the image of a character (the Ukrainian president) he played in a popular satirical TV show, Servant of the People. Critics say he is just a figurehead for tycoon Igor Kolomoisky, an allegation that both strongly deny.
The leader of the presidential race, Zelensky, has expressed his gratitude to those Ukrainians who voted “not just for the crack,” as he put it.
Poroshenko, on his part, thanked all Ukrainians for attending the polls, lauding their resolve to vote. Ukraine has never seen as tough competition as during this election, he said, adding that he considers it to be a very good sign.
Poroshenkos campaign is focused on the promise that one day Ukraine will join the EU and NATO, an aspiration that was enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution during his first term. He also presents himself as a staunch nationalist, as he has proposed restricting the use of the Russian language in Ukraine to promote Ukrainian, and has expressed his support for the newly-formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which the Russian Orthodox Church sees as a schismatic force.
Yulia Tymoshenko, a veteran of Ukrainian politics, is in third place with nearly 14 percent. While the official data suggests otherwise, Tymoshenko has claimed that she actually scored second and will be in the second round of the elections, accusing the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) of interfering in the polls.
She served as prime minister twice and spent three years in prison under Poroshenkos predecessor – Read More – Source