Ukraine's incumbent President Petro Poroshenko has been soundly defeated by 41-year-old comedian Volodymyr Zelensky in the final round of the country's presidential election. Zelensky won 73 per cent of the vote whilst Poroshenko lagged well behind with just 25 per cent.
Poroshenko, a one-time member of a bogus Ukrainian social-democratic party, claims to be an ‘independent’. His rival Volodymyr Zelensky is a popular comedian of Jewish origin whom his enemies claim is a pawn of a Ukrainian media baron.
Poroshenko is an immensely rich Ukrainian oligarch who loyally did the bidding of US imperialism, which propelled him into power in the first place. His deeply unpopular regime relied on the fascist thugs who overthrew the legitimate government in 2014. He pursued confrontation with Russia and vowed to crush the people’s governments in the Donbas in a bloody but ultimately futile campaign that has left the country destitute and broken. And at the end of the day his millions counted for nothing in the poll that swept a popular comedian with no political experience whatsoever into power last weekend.
The elections were by no means ‘free and fair’. Anti-fascist movements have been driven underground and communists prevented from standing under “de-communisation” laws passed by the Poroshenko regime. But the vote clearly showed that most Ukrainians do not support the rabid nationalists and Nazi militias that have propped up the Poroshenko regime for the last five years. It also reflects a genuine desire to end the conflict in the Donbas and restore normal relations with the Russian Federation.
Zelensky, like most of his compatriots, is a Russian-Ukrainian, who says he wants to continue the drive to get Ukraine into the European Union and NATO whilst restoring old ties with Russia by genuinely adhering to the Minsk Agreement that was supposed to end the conflict in the east. But his newly formed ‘Servant of the People’ party, the name of Zelensky’s satirical TV show, currently has no seats at all in the Ukrainian parliament. That may change if he runs a slate in the general election later this year. In meantime he will have to work with the corrupt parliamentary factions that represent Ukraine’s rival oligarchs in the Kiev parliament.
Although the Russians are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt the Kremlin is clearly going to wait and see what Zelensky does in high office. At the moment he can do very little.