Comics relief? Ukraines presidential race


In the hit Ukrainian comedy show. Servant of the people. I history teachers, expletive strewn anti corruption rant goes viral. And this man of the people winds up being elected president. But throw which but there's some fifteen. The comedian who plays him load. Amir's Alinsky is trying to turn fiction into reality voters head to the polls on Sunday for the first round of Ukraine's presidential elections and not only Mr. linski in the race. He's the front runner. Five years ago. Ukrainians took to the streets that overthrew their former president Viktor Yanukovych since then they faced a simmering war in the east of their country with Russia, which also annexed the Crimean peninsula. Noah Sneider is our Moscow correspondent, he recently visited Mr. Lansky onset in Kiev. They've seen their economy crash and come back from the brink. And they've seen many of the promises of the revolution unfulfilled, especially when it comes to fighting corruption that's opened a huge Gulf of distrust with the authorities and that has led to a strange situation where the front runner in. These elections is a comedian an actor with no political experience whatsoever riding this wave of anti-establishment sentiment and frustration towards a likely victory. And I understand that you you met Mr. linski recently. I did. So I went and saw him onset where he was filming latest season of his TV show serving the people. And the scene that was playing out was telling it showed the Lansky character taking the oath of office. He enters a sort of historical flashback a dialogue with a trio of important figures. Plato prince flood of Kiev, and the Slavic philosopher Grigory Scotto, the, and what ensues is sort of philosophical dialogue on the nature of power. And this, of course, has a double meaning since he may be taking that oath right soon. And so when you met him after he was filming how did he come across? Mr. charming mound. And actor who knows how to hold the room. But at the same time, he's had a hard time being very specific. At all about what he plans to do. Once he becomes president in part. It's a need campaign strategy it allows voters to see him as an empty vessel that they can fill with their hopes will what about his own hopes. Did he speak to you about why he wants to run for office? He talked about wanting to change things about wanting to make the country better. He came around eventually to answer that he summed up as I want my kids to be able to say that my dad was a normal guy. Great guy and these motivations for many voters raise questions because of his somewhat. Murky ties with color mois key, the guard who owns the TV channel on which Mr. Lansky show has aired the to maintain that they're not in cahoots and that there's nothing to their relationship beyond the business one. But missed his Lansky vague answers have fueled the suspicions about why he actually has decided to run then without prejudice to wear his platform might be coming from. What is he actually said he'll do first and foremost, he's promised to maintain Ukraine's course, towards western integration integration with the European Union. He's talked about fighting corruption and somewhat vaguely about ending the war about finding away to negotiate with mister Putin at the same time. His ideological stance is. Quite over the map, we talked to him about which world leaders, he admired which figures he associated himself with global politics, and he invoked to names in particular day able scenario the right wing populace, president of Brazil. And France's among well Macron. Mccall who's liberal technocrat the Gulf between their policies and their positions is enormous. And again, perhaps suggests that Mr. Lonski is is a bit unfamiliar with the territory he's wandering onto. And I guess that's particularly worrisome in the sense that he's up against a ladder Putin for a chunk of his country. Absolutely. Mr Putin has nineteen years of executive experience under his belt. He's a wily operator and will not miss the opportunity to use his opponent's inexperience to his advantage, and how did Mr. linski and up here. How comedian with no political experience leading the polls. I think the main reason is frustration frustration amongst ordinary Ukrainians with their post revolutionary leadership when they overthrew the previous president victory on the kovic in two thousand fourteen. There was a great deal of hope that the deeply corrupt. Oligarchy political system that has gripped Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union would finally change and that fundamental promise has been left unfulfilled. So although Ukraine has made some important reforms, although the country is moving closer to Europe citizens now enjoy visa-free travel to the U, for example. They don't feel like the system has fundamentally changed three quarters of Ukrainian say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Just nine percent have faith in their national government. That's the lowest figure of any country survey by Gallup polling agency. And you see that frustration spill out onto the streets quite regularly. They're anti corruption protests in Kiev in the same place often has where the revolution in two thousand fourteen began. And so who is Mr. linski running against are there more. Let's call them standard candidates. There's nearly forty candidates running for president. But the front runners are a pair of old faces from the old guard. There's the incumbent president petro parsh- Anco who came to office in two thousand fourteen in the wake the revolution promising to root out corruption and change this old system people largely feel that he's failed to do. So the second major challenger to mister Lonski is Hewlett Michenko. She's a former prime minister came to prominence after the orange revolution two thousand four and she's reinvented herself this time around as populous. Okay. So you've got two establishment candidates and one wildcard does that look like it's going to be a fair fight at least at the polls. That's big question. And it's the thing that people are most worried about in key, if these days, there are not only fears about the influence of oligarchy television. But also. Hello fears about straight up vote, rigging and vote-buying and vast majority of Ukrainians, in fact, don't believe that these will be free and fair elections, and that could be the most dangerous outcome of all. But let's suppose things are relatively clear cut and Mr. Dolinsky gets through the first round as expected. What do you reckon happens? Then the polling shows the in most cases, he would win head to head matchup with Mr. partial go and with Mr. machine go, but a lot of it depends on things like voter turnout misters Lonski basis, younger less reliable. So it's really hard to say. And if he were to win in the second round and become president he'd inherit the simmering war with Russia, which has massive implications for relations between Russia and the west he would inherit an economy that still struggling could benefit from further reform, and he would face a brutal fight over parliamentary elections in the fall.

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