A comedian with no political experience has won the most votes in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential elections, according to preliminary results, released by the country’s Central Election Commission Monday.
The two – who have expressed largely pro-EU opinions – are set to take part in a run-off election next month.
With over 90% of the result of Sunday’s vote tallied, Volodymyr Zelensky, a television comedian and political newcomer who is widely seen as a protest candidate that appeals to younger voters, has 30.3% of the votes cast.
If he does not pass a 50% threshold to win the vote outright, Zelensky faces a second-round runoff on April 21, possibly against incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, who came in second place with 16% of the vote.
Former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, came in third place, by winning only 13.4%, according to the preliminary results.
His opponent, Petro Poroshenko, has a firm position against Russia
Poroshenko largely campaigned on his ability to play tough with Russia.
He even stated in a Twitter post that, he cast Russian President Vladimir Putin as his main opponent.
“When asked who is my ally, with whom I am ready to unite and coordinate my actions, I answer: my ally is the Ukrainian people,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Who is my opponent? I am not ashamed to say it openly – this opponent is Putin.”
Both candidates are under rough scrutiny
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov didn’t wish to make any comments on the first round of votes from last Monday, but did say that he hoped the “party of war” would not prevail.
“We are closely following the candidates’ statements, especially in the part that concerns our country and bilateral relations, of course,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters Monday, without naming candidates.
“We are closely watching the statements of candidates about their vision of the future fate of Donbas and we’re making adequate conclusions. And of course, we would still like not to see the party of war at the helm of Ukraine, but the party that is intent on a real step-by-step settlement of the situation in the south-east of Ukraine based on the existing agreements.”
Oligarch’s support of Volodymyr Zelensky stirs the waters of big business pulling some strings
One of the issues that Zelensky may face is due to Igor Kolomoisky’s support. The oligarch has given the comedian’s show almost daily airtime during the election campaign on his television channel.
He is one of Ukraine’s main players when it comes to exerting influence on the country’s politics and business.
Critics say that “If Zelensky becomes president, the president will be Kolomoisky,” Sophia said.
On the other hand, Mr Poroshenko, himself an oligarch who made his fortune in confectionery, launched what is expected to be an ugly second-round campaign by describing his rival as “a puppet of Kolomoisky.”