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Ukrainians set to elect comedian as next president

 Ukrainians fed up with entrenched corruption and hungry for change are likely to elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comedian with no previous political experience, as their next president in a run-off vote on Sunday.


The 41-year-old Zelenskiy, who plays a fictitious president in a popular TV series, has maintained a strong lead since winning nearly twice as many votes as the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in last month’s first round of the election.


An opinion poll by the KIIS research firm on Tuesday showed Zelenskiy with 72 percent of the vote and Poroshenko with 25 percent. Last week a different survey put them on 61 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Zelenskiy’s rise fits a pattern of political insurgency across many parts of the world, from the election of President Donald Trump in the United States, to Brexit, to the Five Star Movement in Italy that was also propelled by a comedian.

His victory would be a drastic departure from previous presidential elections since Ukraine broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, which were won by experienced politicians including three former prime ministers.

At stake is the leadership of a country on the frontline of the West’s standoff with Russia following the 2014 Maidan protests that caused Poroshenko’s Kremlin-backed predecessor to flee into exile, and Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

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