chaos wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:07 pm
Ukraine election: Comedian Zelensky wins presidency by landslide
22 April 2019
Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has scored a landslide victory in the country's presidential election.
With nearly all ballots counted in the run-off vote, Mr Zelensky had taken more than 73% with incumbent Petro Poroshenko trailing far behind on 24%.
"I will never let you down," Mr Zelensky told celebrating supporters.
Russia says it wants him to show "sound judgement", "honesty" and "pragmatism" so that relations can improve. Russia backs separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The comments came from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a Facebook post on Monday (in Russian).
He said he expected Mr Zelensky to "repeat familiar ideological formulas" that he used in the election campaign, adding: "I have no illusions on that score.
"At the same time, there is a chance to improve relations with our country."
Mr Poroshenko, who admitted defeat after the first exit polls were published, has said he will not be leaving politics.
He told voters that Mr Zelensky, 41, was too inexperienced to stand up to Russia effectively.
Mr Zelensky, a political novice, is best known for starring in a satirical television series Servant of the People, in which his character accidentally becomes Ukrainian president.
He told reporters he would "reboot" peace talks with the separatists fighting Ukrainian forces and volunteers in the east
"I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case we will continue in the direction of the Minsk [peace] talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire," he said.
There are sporadic skirmishes and the situation also remains tense around Crimea, annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014.
This is way easier to understand if you take into account that Russia has tried to insist on Russian-friendly (i.e., puppet) leaders for former Soviet states since their independences in the early 90s. There was an "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine back in the early 2000s after a pro-Putin leader named Yanukovych was "elected" in widely disputed elections. After protests, a recount/runoff was held, and it was determined that one of the leaders of the revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, would be the new President. At the time, it was widely believed that Yushchenko had been poisoned with digoxin (presumably by the Russians), which left him with a disfigured face. Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko were widely held as pro-European heroes who would bring closer ties with the E.U.
Fast-forward a few years, and there appears to have been some infighting between these two, with Timoshenko ending up in considerable trouble (including being jailed for corruption). There were also harsh winters where Russia simply turned off the natural gas to Ukraine (accused them of stealing it), and insisted that they pay market rates, despite historic reasons why Ukraine was, like the rest of the ex-Soviet states, in no position to be paying Western market rates for gas from their former imperial overlords (a very tricky situation). Then, Yushchenko loses an election to, you guessed it, the old Russian-backed Yanukovych, who becomes President again. This time... it seems that Ukraine has simply realized it's time to get closer to Russia again, though Yanukovych had appeared to be ready to sign an "association agreement" with the EU, despite trying to also maintain closer ties to Russia. Yanukovych's reneging on the association agreement seems to have been the main impetus for the Euromaidan protests in 2013. (But it's also possible that Russia was involved in fomenting this as a pretext for the later invasion.) These protests led to the ouster of Yanukovych, who fled to Russia, and new elections. Weirdly, around this time audio was leaked of United States officials backing a guy named Arseniy Yatsenyuk for Prime Minister. Whether through direct or indirect means, American support seems to have paid off and Yatsenyuk, along with chocolate baron Poroshenko end up as the new leaders, with a decidedly pro-Western outlook. Meanwhile, Russia is engaging in an invasion without admitting it, and manage to annex Crimea under the pretext of a referendum which independent reporters widely suspected was a sham (though there is admittedly fairly widespread pro-Russian support in these regions).
That's the backdrop for what has just happened -- as far as I can tell, Russian backing seems to be behind Zelenskiy's win, and that seems born out in his subtle backtracking of the pro-EU Poroshenko policies, especially regarding the ongoing war in the east of the country.
It's really a mess though.