First a comedian, then later the mayor of the city of Vinnytsia, Volodymyr Zelensky won by a landslide in the polls to be elected the first-ever Jewish president of Ukraine, defeating a recumbent candidate, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Rocking the political establishment in eastern Europe and the former Soviet bloc, and yet to be acknowledged by Russia, this victory renders Ukraine the first country outside of Israel to elect a Jewish president despite the anti-semitism plaguing much of Europe and the free world today.
“His Judaism. It’s extraordinary that the possible future president of the country of the Shoah by bullets and Babi Yar is a self-affirmed Jew from a family of survivors from Kryvy Rih near Dnipro – the land of pogrom if ever there was one,” French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy described Zelensky prior to the election results in a Le Point article.
Zelensky was born to a Jewish family in a manufacturing town in the southern part of Ukraine. His early career focused on show business and comedy, and he co-founded a film studio called Kvarta195 in the capital city of Kiev along with several friends, which was highly successful. Zelensky and his friends co-produced a popular Ukranian television series, “Servant of the People” which today streams around the world on Netflix. His friends from Kvarta195 were the main foundation of his campaign team and moral support during the elections.
Some of the main issues his campaign team focused on included tax reform, the International Monetary Fund bailout, stabilization of the currency amidst a recession, and of course, relations with Russia.
“I am a judgment on you ...I am the result of your mistakes,” Zelensky told the former president, Petro Poroshenko, who reportedly conceded the election even before the final results were completely tallied. “I am not a politician, I’m just a person, a simple person, who came to break this system.”
“We will need to wait and see what kind of president Zelensky turns out to be,” one leader of the Ukranian Jewish community stated. “What is clear is that Poroshenko’s attempt to appeal to nationalism has failed. Ukrainians said they wanted change. And I am feeling optimistic.”
Written by Erin Parfet