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Volodymyr Zelenskyy

[image][image][image]Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy[a] (born 25 January 1978), also transliterated as Zelensky or Zelenskiy, is a Ukrainian politician and former comedian and actor who has served as the sixth and current president of Ukraine since 2019.

Born to a Ukrainian Jewish family, Zelenskyy grew up as a native Russian speaker in Kryvyi Rih, a major city of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in central Ukraine. Prior to his acting career, he obtained a degree in law from the Kyiv National Economic University. He then pursued a career in comedy and created the production company Kvartal 95, which produced films, cartoons, and TV shows including the TV series Servant of the People, in which Zelenskyy played the role of the Ukrainian president. The series aired from 2015 to 2019 and was immensely popular. A political party bearing the same name as the television show was created in March 2018 by employees of Kvartal 95.

Zelenskyy announced his candidacy in the 2019 presidential election on the evening of 31 December 2018, alongside the New Year's Eve address of then-president Petro Poroshenko on the TV channel 1+1. A political outsider, he had already become one of the frontrunners in opinion polls for the election. He won the election with 73.23 percent of the vote in the second round, defeating Poroshenko. He has positioned himself as an anti-establishment and anti-corruption figure.

As president, Zelenskyy has been a proponent of e-government and of unity between the Ukrainian and Russian speaking parts of the country's population. 11–13 His communication style heavily uses social media, particularly Instagram.:7–10 His party won a landslide victory in the snap legislative election held shortly after his inauguration as president. During his administration, Zelenskyy oversaw the lifting of legal immunity for members of parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession, and some progress in tackling corruption in Ukraine.

During his presidential campaign, Zelenskyy promised to end Ukraine's protracted conflict with Russia, and he has attempted to engage in dialogue with Russian president Vladimir Putin. His administration faced an escalation of tensions with Russia in 2021, culminating in the launch of the ongoing full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022. Zelenskyy's strategy during the Russian military buildup was to calm the Ukrainian populace and assure the international community that Ukraine was not seeking to retaliate. He initially distanced himself from warnings of an imminent war, while also calling for security guarantees and military support from NATO to "withstand" the threat. After the start of the invasion, Zelenskyy declared martial law across Ukraine and a general mobilisation of the armed forces. His leadership during the crisis has won him widespread international praise, and he has been described as a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance. Social polls have ranked Zelenskyy as Ukraine's greatest president.

Zelenskyy was inaugurated on 20 May 2019. Various foreign officials attended the ceremony in Ukraine's parliament (Verkhovna Rada), including Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia), Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia), Raimonds Vējonis (Latvia), Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuania), János Áder (Hungary), Maroš Šefčovič (European Union), and Rick Perry (United States). Zelenskyy is the first Jewish president; with Volodymyr Groysman as prime minister, Ukraine became the first country other than Israel to simultaneously have a Jewish head of state and head of government. In his inaugural address, Zelenskyy dissolved the then Ukrainian parliament and called for early parliamentary elections (which had originally been due to be held in October of that year). One of Zelenskyy's coalition partners, the People's Front, opposed the move and withdrew from the ruling coalition.

On 28 May, Zelenskyy restored the Ukrainian citizenship of Mikheil Saakashvili.

Zelenskyy's first major proposal to change the electoral system from a plurality voting system to proportional representation with closed party lists was strongly rejected by the Ukrainian parliament, due to the belief that closed lists would lead to more corruption in government.

In addition, on 6 June, lawmakers refused to include Zelenskyy's key initiative on reintroducing criminal liability for illegal enrichment in the parliament's agenda, and instead included a similar bill proposed by a group of deputies. In June 2019 it was announced that the president's third major initiative, which seeks to remove immunity from lawmakers, diplomats and judges, would be submitted after the July 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election. This initiative was completed on 3 September, when the new parliament passed a bill stripping lawmakers of legal immunity, delivering Zelenskyy a legislative victory by fulfilling one of his key campaign promises.

On 8 July, Zelenskyy ordered the cancellation of the annual Kyiv Independence Day Parade on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, citing costs. Despite this, Zelenskyy highlighted that the day would "honor heroes" on Independence Day, however the "format will be new". He also proposed to spend the money that would have been used to finance the parade on veterans.

In 2020, Zelenskyy's party proposed reforms to Ukraine's media laws with the intent to increase competition and loosen the dominance of Ukrainian oligarchs on television and radio broadcasters. Critics said it risked increasing media censorship in Ukraine because its clause of criminal responsibility for the distribution of disinformation could be abused.

Zelenskyy was criticized for a secret trip to Oman in January 2020 that was not published on his official schedule and on which he appeared to mix a personal holiday with government business. Although the president's office said the trip had been paid for by Zelenskyy himself and not with government money, Zelenskyy came under heavy criticism for the lack of transparency around the trip, which was compared unfavourably to a secret vacation his predecessor Petro Poroshenko took in the Maldives, and which Zelenskyy himself had criticized at the time.

In January 2021, parliament passed a bill updating and reforming Ukraine's referendum laws, which Ukraine's Constitutional Court had declared unconstitutional in 2018. Fixing the referendum law had been one of Zelenskyy's campaign promises.

In June 2021, Zelenskyy submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill creating a public registry of Ukraine's oligarchs, banning them from participating in privatizations of state-owned companies, and forbidding them from contributing financially to politicians. Opposition party leaders supported Zelenskyy's goal of reducing oligarchs' influence on politics in Ukraine but were critical of his approach, saying the public register would be both dangerous, as it concentrated power in the president; and ineffective, since oligarchs were merely a "symbol" of more deeply-rooted corruption. The bill was passed into law in September 2021. Critics of Zelenskyy's administration have claimed that, in taking power away from the Ukrainian oligarchs, he has sought to centralize authority and strengthen his personal position.

One of Zelenskyy's central campaign promises had been to end the Russo-Ukrainian War and resolve the Russia-sponsored separatist movement there. On 3 June, Zelenskyy appointed former president Leonid Kuchma as Ukraine's representative in the Tripartite Contact Group for a settlement in the conflict. On 11 July 2019, Zelenskyy held his first telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin, during which he urged Putin to enter into talks mediated by European countries. The two leaders also discussed the exchange of prisoners held by both sides. In October 2019, Zelenskyy announced a preliminary deal struck with the separatists, under which the Ukrainian government would respect elections held in the region in exchange for Russia withdrawing its unmarked troops. The deal was met with heavy criticism and protests by both politicians and the Ukrainian public. Detractors noted that elections held in Donbas were unlikely to be free and fair, that the separatists had long driven out most pro-Ukrainian residents out of the region to ensure a pro-Russia majority, and that it would be impossible to ensure Russia kept its end of the agreement. Zelenskyy defended his negotiations, saying the elections would not be held before a Russian withdrawal. The agreement failed to ease the conflict, as the separatists continued their attacks and Russia continued providing them with weapons and ammunition. Several Ukrainian nationalist militias and former militias also refused to accept the agreement, including the far-right Azov fighters in the Luhansk region of Donbas. Zelenskyy met personally with some of these groups and tried to convince them to surrender their unregistered weapons and accept the peace accord. Andriy Biletsky, the leader of the far-right National Corps and first commander of Azov, accused Zelenskyy of being disrespectful to army veterans and of acting on behalf of the Kremlin by leaving Ukrainians vulnerable to Russian aggression. Ultimately, the peace deal failed to reduce the violence, much less end the war.

In December 2019, Russia and Ukraine agreed to resume talks mediated by France and Germany under the so-called Normandy Format, which had been abandoned in 2016; it was Zelenskyy's first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. In July 2020, Zelenskyy announced a formal ceasefire with the separatists — the more than twentieth such attempt since the war began in 2014. Although the ceasefire was frequently violated over the next few years and overall violence remained high, ceasefire violations in 2020 did decrease by over 50 per cent compared to the previous year.

On the morning of 24 February 2022, Putin announced that Russia was initiating a "special military operation" in the Donbas. Russian missiles struck a number of military targets in Ukraine, and Zelenskyy declared martial law. Zelenskyy also announced that diplomatic relations with Russia were being severed, effective immediately. Later in the day, he announced general mobilisation.

On 25 February, Zelenskyy said that despite Russia's claim that it was targeting only military sites, civilian sites were also being hit. In an early morning address that day, Zelenskyy said that his intelligence services had identified him as Russia's top target, but that he is staying in Kyiv and his family will remain in the country. "They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state", he said.

In the early hours of 26 February, during the most significant assault by Russian troops on the capital of Kyiv, the United States government and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged Zelenskyy to evacuate to a safer location, and both offered assistance for such an effort. Zelenskyy turned down both offers and opted to remain in Kyiv with its defense forces, saying that "the fight is here [in Kyiv]; I need ammunition, not a ride".

More than 90% of Ukrainians supported the actions of Zelenskyy, including more than 90% in western and central Ukraine and more than 80% in Russian-speaking regions in eastern and southern Ukraine. A Pew Research Center poll found that 72% of Americans had confidence in Zelenskyy's handling of international affairs.

Zelenskyy has gained worldwide recognition as the wartime leader of Ukraine during the Russian invasion; historian Andrew Roberts compared him to Winston Churchill. Harvard Political Review said that Zelenskyy "has harnessed the power of social media to become history's first truly online wartime leader, bypassing traditional gatekeepers as he uses the internet to reach out to the people." He has been described as a national hero or a "global hero" by many commentators, including publications such as The Hill, Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel and USA Today. BBC News and The Guardian have reported that his response to the invasion has received praise even from previous critics.

During the invasion, Zelenskyy has been reportedly the target of more than a dozen assassination attempts; three were prevented due to tips from Russian FSB employees who opposed the invasion. Two of those attempts were carried out by the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary force, and the third by the Kadyrovites, the personal guard of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

On 7 March 2022, Czech president Miloš Zeman decided to award Zelenskyy with the highest state award of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, for "his bravery and courage in the face of Russia's invasion".

Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for direct talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying: "Good Lord, what do you want? Leave our land. If you don't want to leave now, sit down with me at the negotiating table. But not from 30 meters away, like with Macron and Scholz. I don't bite." Zelenskyy said he was "99.9 percent sure" that Putin thought the Ukrainians would welcome the invading forces with "flowers and smiles".

On 7 March 2022, as a condition for ending the invasion, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine's neutrality; recognition of Crimea, which had been annexed by Russia, as Russian territory; and recognition of the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. On 8 March, Zelenskyy expressed willingness to discuss Putin's demands. Zelenskyy said he is ready for dialogue, but "not for capitulation". He proposed a new collective security agreement for Ukraine with the United States, Turkey, France, Germany as an alternative to the country joining NATO. Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party said that Ukraine would not give up its claims on Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. However, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was considering giving the Russian language protected minority status.

On 15 March 2022, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, together with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, visited Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy in a display of support for Ukraine.

On 16 March 2022, a deepfake appeared online of Zelenskyy calling on Ukrainian citizens to surrender to Russia. The attack was largely deemed to have failed at its intended goal. The video is considered to be the first use of deepfake technology in a global-scale disinformation attack.

Zelenskyy has made an effort to rally the governments of Western nations in an effort to isolate Russia. He has made numerous addresses to the legislatures of the EU, UK, Poland, Australia, Canada, US, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, and the Nordic countries.

On March 23, Zelenskyy was calling on Russians to emigrate from Russia so as not to finance the war in Ukraine with their taxes.

In March 2022, Zelenskyy supported the suspension of 11 Ukrainian political parties with ties to Russia: the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Derzhava, Left Opposition, Nashi, Opposition Bloc, Opposition Platform — For Life, Party of Shariy, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Union of Leftists, and the Volodymyr Saldo Bloc. The Communist Party of Ukraine, another pro-Russia party, had already been banned in 2015 because of its support to the Donbas separatists. Zelenskyy has also supported consolidating all TV news stations into a single 24-hour news broadcast run by the state of Ukraine.

In April 2022, he criticized Germany's ties with Russia.

In May 2022, Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian men of conscription age had a duty to remain in Ukraine and that up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers were killed every day in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. He made the comment after he was asked about an online petition calling to lift a prohibition on Ukrainian men leaving Ukraine. As Zelenskyy ordered a general military mobilization in February 2022, he also banned men ages 18 to 60 from leaving Ukraine. In early June 2022, Zelenskyy's adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that up to 200 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in combat every day.

Zelenskyy denounced suggestions by former US diplomat Henry Kissinger that Ukraine should cede control of Crimea and Donbas to Russia in exchange for peace. On 25 May 2022, he said that Ukraine would not agree to peace until Russia agreed to return Crimea and the Donbas region to Ukraine. However, he later said he did not believe that all the land seized by Russia since 2014, which includes Crimea, could be recaptured by force, saying that "If we decide to go that way, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people."

On 3 May 2022, Zelenskyy accused Turkey of having "double standards" by welcoming Russian tourists while attempting to act as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine in order to end the war.

On 25 May 2022, Zelenskyy said that he was satisfied with China's policy of staying away from the conflict. In August 2022, he said China had the economic leverage to pressure Putin to end the war, adding "I’m sure that without the Chinese market for the Russian Federation, Russia would be feeling complete economic isolation. That’s something that China can do – to limit the trade [with Russia] until the war is over." According to Zeleenskyy, since the beginning of the invasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping had refused to speak with him."

On 30 May 2022, Zelenskyy criticized EU leaders for being too soft on Russia and asked, "Why can Russia still earn almost a billion euros a day by selling energy?" The study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) calculates that the EU paid Russia about €56 billion for fossil fuel deliveries in the three months following the start of Russia's invasion.

On 20 June 2022, Zelenskyy addressed African Union (AU) representatives via videoconference. He invited African leaders for virtual meeting but only four of them attended. On 20 July 2022, South America's Mercosur trade bloc refused Zelenskyy's request to speak at the trade bloc's summit in Paraguay.

Speaking about the 2022 Russian mobilization, Zelenskyy called on Russians to not submit to "criminal mobilization", saying: "Russian commanders do not care about the lives of Russians — they just need to replenish the empty spaces left" by killed and wounded Russian soldiers. Following Putin's announcement of Russia annexing four regions of Ukrainian territory it had seized during its invasion, Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was president.

On 25 September 2022, Zelenskyy said that Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons "could be a reality." He added that Putin "wants to scare the whole world" with nuclear blackmail. He also said that Putin is aware that the "world will never forgive" a Russian nuclear strike.

When asked what kind of relationship Ukrainians and Ukraine will have with Russia after the war, Zelenskyy replied that "They took too many people, too many lives. The society will not forgive them
ididntknow · 51-55, M
So you think Zelensky is a honourable man ?
ididntknow · 51-55, M
@Yeranouhi I’m not even going to bother taking this conversation any further, it looks like you are fully indoctrinated, pointless speaking to you
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Convivial · 26-30, F
@ididntknow about how Ukraine is mistreating Russians... That propaganda?
Zelenskyy shocked the world by proving to be a warrior beyond his years and experience. An absolute badass. I truly hope history won't forget him.
Dshhh · M
i think or all those people ALL THSOE CHILDEN kidnapped and sent who knows where!

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