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Ukraine leaps into unknown after comic elected president

Ukraine leaps into unknown after comic elected president

AFP
Kiev
Ukraine leapt into the unknown Monday after comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president on promises of change but with just a vague blueprint of what he might do as leader.
Zelensky, whose previous political experience was playing the president on a TV show, crushed incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a stinging rebuke to the establishment fuelled by voters’ anger over war with separatists and social injustice.
Ukrainians looked to the future with hope and anxiety after the performer took 73 percent of the vote on Sunday, according to nearly complete official results. Zelensky at 41 will become Ukraine’s youngest ever president when he is sworn into office by early June. It remained unclear Monday who would fill top positions in his governement, including prime minister.
The star of “Servant of the People”, a sitcom now in its third season, has vowed to press ahead with the pro-European course set out by Poroshenko.
But he has also said he wants to improve ties with arch-enemy Russia.
On election night, however, he appeared to taunt the Kremlin when he told people in fellow post-Soviet countries that “everything is possible.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday it was “too early to talk about President Putin congratulating Mr Zelensky, or about the possibility of working together.”
Ties between Ukraine and Russia were shredded after a bloody uprising ousted a Kremlin-backed regime in 2014, prompting Moscow to annex Crimea and support insurgents in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has claimed around 13,000 lives.
Poroshenko, 53, quickly conceded defeat and said he was ready to coach the successor. But on Monday evening he told a rally he planned to take back the country’s top job during the next presidential polls set for 2024.
Several thousand supporters, who gathered outside the presidential offices, chanted they wanted him back “in a year”.
“With God’s help,” Poroshenko replied.
“We will unite to secure our common victory in the near future.” Poroshenko’s faction has the most seats in the legislature and new parliamentary polls are due to be held in October.

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