Over the weekend, Ukraine held its presidential election. Current President Petro Poroshenko, who won in 2014 after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, lost to comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a landslide.

Television became real life since Zelenskiy played “school teacher Vasyl Holoborodko, who by a sheer stroke of coincidence becomes Ukraine’s president,” on the show Servant of the People.


It also mirrors America since everyone expected Hillary Clinton to demolish now-President Donald Trump.

However, unlike our election, “the results of the first round of the election and polling data indicated it was unavoidable.”

Zelenskiy defeated Poroshenko 73% to 24%. The Kyiv Post continued:

But for Zelenskiy’s team and the 13.5 million Ukrainians who voted for him, the comedian-turned-politician is hope for positive change.

On election day, the Kyiv Post surveyed voters exiting several polling places across the city. In many cases, they said they had voted for Poroshenko in 2014, but that he did not live up to their hopes. For them, Zelenskiy offered an alternative.

Ukraine is “just following the global trend of replacing old elites,” said Aivaras Abromavicius, Ukraine’s former economy minister who advised Zelenskiy’s campaign. In 2016, Donald Trump was elected president in the United States, and there have been other examples geographically closer to Ukraine.

Poroshenko led Ukraine after Euromaiden kicked out Yanukovych, a president strongly backed Russia, after he rejected a deal with the European Union.

Ukraine dived into a war with eastern Ukraine taken over by rebels loyal to Russia. This crisis remains as Putin seems unwilling to let go of the Soviet republic considered the jewel of Russia since the country supposedly started in Kyiv.

Zelenskiy’s Plans for Ukraine

Zelenskiy had defense expert Ivan Aparshyn on his team, who has outlined plans for the country’s defense and security sectors. From The Kyiv Post:

As Aparshyn wrote in its blog on the Obozrevatel media outlet on Apr. 22, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be developing forces of contracted and voluntary service “free of shameful draft” and reinforces with an active reserve force and a territorial defense system.

It will be commanded by combat-hardened officers “focused on victory and able to preserve a soldier’s life,” he added.

Besides, according to the expert, the Zelenskiy administration intends to pull back the shroud of ubiquitous secrecy and transparency in the sector.

The Defense Ministry’s budget will be maximally overt to public, so that “every person could keep track of every kopeck, the effectiveness of spending it and bringing it to soldier,” according to him.

“We’re not going to continue with the practice of concealing expenses on some clandestine programs and obscure projects,” the expert wrote. “It is this transparency that will allow for increasing payments for military personnel and bringing it to the level of allowances in NATO nations.”

Aparshyn also wants to open the state defense procurement to Ukrainian businesses so they can have a equal shot at the weapons market with state-run businesses. It’s already decided that “the UkrOboronProm, the state-run defense concern of over 130 military production enterprises will be reformed and stripped of its authority to define the policies of defense production.”

The defense and and security sector will continue to work with NATO and the European Union, “particularly in terms of reaching full compatibility of Ukraine’s Armed Forces with NATO during ‘possible joint operations.'” As much as I would love for Ukraine to join these two, I doubt it will happen since Europe relies on Russia for its energy. It always comes down the oil and natural gas.

Anyway, the team promises the military with “decent standards of living” along with “full social benefits set including medical insurance and education in top-level military academies.”

More importantly, Aparshyn promises to release all the information about the war in eastern Ukraine:

Moreover, the expert noted, the next administration would “make public the truth” about disastrous battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltseve of 2014-2015, as well as about the beginning of Russia’s war in Donbas and Russia’s invasion in Crimea.

“In the nearest time, people will get to know the truth,” he wrote.

“Nobody is going to hide anything from anyone. And officials who made decisions or were idle where actions were needed will be held responsible.”

Jewish Leadership

Ukraine is also the only country outside of Israel with a Jewish president and prime minister. From The Jerusalem Post:

After all, Russia and other critics claim Ukrainian society has a serious anti-Semitism problem and legacy.

“Imagine, a pure-blooded Jew with the appearance of a Sholom Aleichem protagonist wins by a landslide in a country where the glorification of Nazi criminals is enacted into law,” wrote Avigdor Eskin, a Russian-Israeli columnist, in an analysis published earlier this month by the Regnum news agency.

Eskin in column on Zelensky downplayed allegations of widespread anti-Semitism in Ukraine, attributing much of the attention to the problem in media and beyond to propaganda by Russia, which is involved in an armed conflict over territory with Ukraine.

Israel has condemned Ukraine as one report considered the country “as a regional trouble spot” when it came to anti-Semitism:

“A striking exception in the trend of decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in Eastern Europe was Ukraine, where the number of recorded anti-Semitic attacks was doubled from last year and surpassed the tally for all the incidents reported throughout the entire region combined,” the report said. The authors of the report counted more than 130 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine in 2017, they said.

Ukraine also came under fire from US lawmakers for glorifying Nazis. Ukrainians justified it because they considered these people “as fighters for Ukrainian freedom who it insisted sided with Germany only in order to fight against the Russian-controlled Soviet Union.”


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