Zelensky in world media: unexpected frontrunner, beloved comic, presidential favorite, showman

Author : News Agency 112 International

Source : 112 Ukraine

World media paid not so many attention to Mr. Zelensky, Poroshenko was rather in the focus, though the focus shifted a couple of days ago
22:03, 21 April 2019

Volodymyr Zelensky performing as President Holoborodko in the "Servant of the People" TV series
112 Agency

World media are at one thinking that Mr. Zelensky, a front-runner at the first round of Ukraine's presidential elections, is a favorite candidate to the second round on April 21 and in case he wins he is going to face a lot of difficulties in international politics, economy sector, fight against corruption and countering his oligarch's allies and counterparts.

Let's check the most reputable world outlets who turned to the Ukrainian issue again. 

The Financial Times

Image: unexpected frontrunner, entertainer 

The Financial Times, screenshot
112 Agency
Financial Times compares Ze with Trump or Brexit, or rather the disappointment they both brought “riding the same populist wave that has already delivered a string of electoral upsets elsewhere in the world, including Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency”.

Seems FT doesn’t admit Poroshenko’s win, calling Zelensky a President without "future" or "putative" prefixes. FT also questions his ability to resist manipulations and stay diplomatic with all Ukraine's international partners and enemies.

"Another concern is his links to Igor Kolomoisky, the wealthy oligarch whose channel screens Mr Zelensky’s shows, which have made the TV comic himself moderately rich. The entertainer has denied being a Kolomoisky proxy but, if elected, will face close scrutiny for signs of manipulation. A Ukrainian president, moreover, must negotiate with western partners and the IMF, while engaging in more Goodfellas-style diplomacy with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Mr Poroshenko has proved fairly adept at both. How a TV entertainer will fare is anybody’s guess."




The Politico

Image: political novice, meteoric rise

The Politico, screenshot
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When talking about two presidential candidates, The Politico speaks of two oligarchs Poroshenko and Kolomoisky instead of Poroshenko and Zelensky.

“Though Zelenskiy has repeatedly spoken out against giving the oligarch “preferential treatment” under his administration, their entangled business relationship has many questioning his public resolve. Kolomoisky is a cutthroat businessman schooled in the turf wars of the turbulent and lawless 1990s, while the comedian is a political novice with little experience playing fast and dirty. Will he be able to resist Kolomoisky’s demands?”

The Politico also states that Ukraine is a country “ that has historically been anti-Semitic”, and that also presents a unique problem for Zelenskiy as Kolomoisky is Jewish.

“Kolomoisky’s being Jewish also presents a unique problem for Zelenskiy in a country that has historically been anti-Semitic. Given that Zelenskiy is of the same faith, an alliance with the oligarch could provoke a backlash against the country’s thriving Jewish community.”

The Politico went made more profound and even refreshed our memory with Kolomoisky’s UKROP political party.

“Kolomoisky also set up his own nationalist political party UKROP — its name based on a derogatory Russian name for Ukrainians — which won two seats in parliament in 2016, but went nowhere after that.”


The National Interest

Image: beloved comic

The National Interest, screenshot
112 Agency
“If Zelensky were to become Ukraine’s president, then it would be no laughing matter; his presidency may offer Ukraine it’s best hope of saving the impoverished nation’s economy.”

Though on the same page, The National Interest makes several plainly false statements that Yulia Tymoshenko was a president before ousted Yanukovych (while she has never been) or she is from Western Ukraine (again, while she is not), that Zelensky comes from Dnipro (while he was born in Kryvyi Rih), and the IKEA story actually made a progress while the National Interest writes: "IKEA had to cancel its plans to open a store in the country after it couldn’t find the right government official to bribe".

So let's move on.







The Globalist

Image: a successful showman not linked to the old political class

The Globalist, screenshot
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In The Globalist Andreas Umland, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, also draws a parallel between Ze and Trump:

“the election of an outcast like Trump appears as far more unreasonable than choosing the outsider Zelensky”

Umland can’t bear the thought of Poroshenko’s win:

“Zelensky is – apart from his English-language proficiency and degree in law – not well-prepared for any of these tasks. Yet, he can and hopefully will appoint competent ministers and bureaucrats with relevant higher education and work records in these fields.”




Image: a comedian-turned-politician, an anti-graft candidate

CNBC, screenshot
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“Zelensky might be a political novice but he’s no stranger to the public, having played the role of an ordinary guy that becomes Ukrainian president in a hit TV show called “Servant of the People.”

CNBC insists that despite Ze is not politically experienced, he has surrounded himself with experienced advisers. Actually, the Ze team presented only former finance and economy ministers, but those say they will not include officials or ministers from the current administration.

“He has collected top experts, economists and reformers around him and I would say his program looks quite good,” Viktor Andrusiv, executive director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future based in Kiev, told CNBC Wednesday, insisting that Zelensky’s program was being criticized somewhat unfairly."

CNBC underlines Ze's plans in anti-corruption fight in an extremely corrupt country:

"After turning to politics in the real world, Zelensky (like his TV character) posited himself as an anti-graft candidate fighting for change in a country dogged by corruption and economic instability."


The Washington Post

Image: public persona real or fake

The Washington Post, screenshot
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The Washington Post speaks of widespread discontent with the political establishment in one of Europe’s biggest countries when “comedian who plays the president on TV came out ahead” in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential elections.

“Is his public persona real or fake? Are the views he expresses when performing the same ones that he holds when he is not? We have no way of knowing. Zelensky gives few interviews and only campaigns through his television program. But then, we don’t always know what more conventional politicians “really” think, either; nor are we always sure that we care. Because most people consume political news the same way they consume entertainment, on their telephones or televisions, maybe it isn’t that odd that Ukrainians are treating a fictional campaign the same way as they would one orchestrated by spin doctors.”

The Washington Post also refers to his TV series hero:

"His character, Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, is a simple but upright schoolteacher, who is unexpectedly catapulted to the presidency and tackles the country’s venal oligarch class. Among Zelensky’s supporters, the show’s message is that honesty among politicians should trump all other considerations, and they see him as decent and corruption-free in real life.".


The New York Times

Image: a maverick with no political experience, a fresh face, a surrogate for Ihor V. Kolomoisky

The New York Times, screenshot
112 Agency
The New York Times speaks of a Zelensky as a fresh face in Ukraine’s politics, though clearly ties him to a Ukrainian oligarch, owning a TV channel airing Zelensky shows.

“Some wonder if he may be a surrogate for Ihor V. Kolomoisky, an oligarch and bitter rival of Mr. Poroshenko’s who moved to Israel after becoming embroiled in a banking scandal that cost Ukraine $5.6 billion. Although Mr. Zelensky has been a business partner with the oligarch through television and announced his candidacy on Mr. Kolomoisky’s channel, both men have denied any covert link.”

Despite his fresh-face appeal, however, questions hang over Mr. Zelensky.

“A Ukrainian comedian who plays an accidental president on television delivered a walloping rebuke to the country’s political class.”




The Moscow Times

Image: neither far right nor far left, has no real policy on Russia

The Moscow Times, screenshot
112 Agency
To balance our review with an “eastern” viewpoint, let’s quote the Moscow Times’ Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Fellow and Chair of Russian Domestic Politics Program at Carnegie Moscow Center. Board Member of Gaidar Foundation. He believes a new Ukrainian president won’t salvage Russia-Ukraine relations as the Russian authorities have never been inclined to consider Ukraine a truly separate state.

“He is neither far right nor far left, but has taken on the role of a third force: one geared toward reform and establishing peace in Ukraine.”

“Even if Zelenskiy doesn’t know how to speak and think articulately, his party, Servant of the People, will do that for him. If its rating turns out to be as high as the youthful presidential candidate’s, the party will be able to campaign ahead of the October parliamentary elections without forming a coalition or finding allies.”

“Most likely, in light of Russia’s lack of preparation for the eventuality of a president Zelenskiy, no one has given that any serious thought.”



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