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No joke! Ukraine’s presidential choice: an oligarch, a gas princess or a comedian

21 23 15
15.02.2019

For Ukrainians able to vote in next month’s presidential election, the choice is now pretty clear. There are three options: the incumbent oligarch anti-Russia hardliner, the femme fatale of Kiev’s political scene, or a comedian best known for playing a fictional president in a popular TV drama.

While his candidacy originally inspired much bemusement, nobody’s laughing now at Zelensky. Because the entertainer has surged into a nine-point polling lead with just six weeks left before the big day.

New Ukrainian KIIS presidential poll shows comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy growing his lead to 26.9%, with President Poroshenko behind him at 17.7% and Tymoshenko retaining third position at 15.8% after leading for months and slipping in recent weeks. https://t.co/7DE0rTZ8Wv

Right now, here’s the state of play: Zelensky 26.9 percent, Poroshenko 17.7 percent, and Yulia Tymoshenko 15.8 percent.

Asked why they favor the newcomer, 54 percent of his backers cite his status as a fresh face, who’s up against a number of figures who’ve been on the political scene for donkey’s years.

Ukraine’s political and financial elites are tightly knit. For instance, a decade ago, Poroshenko served as foreign minister in Tymoshenko’s cabinet. And, in 2011, when, subsequently ousted, President Viktor Yanukovich locked up Tymoshenko on dubious charges, Poroshenko was acting as his trade minister.

Kiev’s political merry-go-round might be cynical, but it’s rarely boring. And this is the reality of politics in the former USSR: the more competitive the contest, the more unstable the state.

Russia is a case in point, where the devastating ‘90s provided “interesting” bouts, but horrid economic conditions, leading to disillusionment with the concept of “liberal democracy” itself. This has inspired almost two decades of Putinist domination since the........

© RT.com