Ukraine poll: Comedian Zelensky 'wins presidency by landslide'

Ukraine poll: Comedian Zelensky 'wins presidency by landslide'

Ukrainians vote on Sunday in the second round of an election that could thrust a comedian with no prior political experience into the presidency of a country at war and wanting transformational change. "And the results are clear and give me grounds to call my opponent and congratulate him on his victory", Poroshenko said at the press center of his campaign headquarters, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

The Ukrainian president has strong powers over defence, security and foreign policy but needs backing from parliament to push through reforms. "Why does Poland live better than us?" "We want peace, freedom and happiness", said voter Zinaida Statnikova.

Zelenskiy won the first round of voting on March 31 with 30 percent of the vote in a field of 39 candidates. "We have united Ukraine".

Poroshenko has also played on Ukraine's bid for greater spiritual independence from Russian Federation, welcoming a decision last October by Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual and symbolic leader of the Eastern Orthodox church, to recognize an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Because it's not amusing. "Well, at first it can be a bit amusing and then it might hurt afterwards", Poroshenko said, after casting his ballot.

Voter Egor Binkevych wants a candidate to at least try to tackle the issue of corruption. Promising to announce some kind of a plan shortly, he asked the reporters for help in the upcoming "infowar" that he says would help end the conflict, which, since 2014, has been raging between Kiev's troops and the rebel self-proclaimed republics.

A voter casts her ballot at a polling station during the second round of a presidential election in Kiev, Ukraine April 21, 2019. The actor found fame in his role in the Ukrainian television series "Servant of the People" as a down-and-out schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes President of Ukraine after becoming famous for an anti-corruption rant that went viral on social media. Zelenskiy, however, has largely stayed away from the campaign trail and eschewed interviews.

Zelenskiy has promised to fight corruption, a message that has resonated with Ukrainians fed up with the status quo in a country of 42 million people that is one of Europe's poorest almost three decades after breaking away from the Soviet Union.

He capitalized on his ability to play tough with Russia throughout his campaign, casting Russian President Vladimir Putin as his rival.

In his last-ditch appeal before the runoff, Poroshenko told voters that handing the presidency to Zelensky would imperil the very existence of the country.

Poroshenko's faction has the most seats in the current legislature and new parliamentary polls are due in October.

Zelenskiy has called for direct talks with Russian Federation over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives. O'Hagan says he inherited a hard situation.

Irina Fakhova, a 55-year-old sales clerk, says "we have grown poor under Poroshenko and have to save to buy food and clothing. we have had enough of them getting mired in corruption and filling their pockets and treating us as fools".

He showered the president with questions about his assets during Friday's debate.

Poroshenko calls Zelenskiy a "puppet" of Kolomoisky and the comedian has been forced to fend off suggestions he might help Kolomoisky win compensation or regain ownership of PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest lender, which was nationalised in 2016.

Earlier on Sunday, Poroshenko had warned Ukrainians against taking a chance on Zelenskiy. But amid a continuing war in eastern Ukraine, economic travails and popular revulsion over allegations of government corruption, Zelensky's anti-establishment, antiwar and reformist message captured the support of a wide cross-section of the country.

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