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TOPIC: ukraine corruption

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Zelensky And The Delicate Task Of Tackling Corruption In Wartime

On the eve of Vladimir Putin's invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky was not a particularly popular figure in Ukraine. In the year since, he has achieved virtually universal support at home, and hero status abroad. What will the onetime anti-corruption crusader do with this political capital?


KYIV — To understand Volodymyr Zelensky's spectacular rise, it's worth going back to his arrival on the political scene in Ukraine.

In the first round of the 2019 presidential elections, the well-known actor and comedian, and political novice, got 30% of the ballots, before rallying the entire protest vote in the second round to win with a sensational 73%. In May 2020, about 40% of Ukrainians supported Zelensky’s presidency. By 2021, that support had dropped by 10 percentage points, and by the beginning of Feb. 2022, he could claim on 24.6% support.

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Zelensky’s rating was affected by the inevitable disappointment of inflated expectations, as well as personnel failures, unpopular land reforms, rising utility bills and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of his key promises — peace in the Donbas — remained unfulfilled. Despite a short détente in the summer and autumn of 2019, the Kremlin demonstrated that it did not intend to give in to Kyiv’s demands. Similarly, the Ukrainian public made clear that they were not ready to make concessions to the aggressor.

The Russian invasion of Feb. 24 changed everything. Zelensky went from fading president to supreme commander, leading a nation at war.

In the first days of the war, support for the Ukrainian president shot up to 91%. Zelensky refusal of offers from Western allies to move abroad for safety, and instead remain in Kyiv, then under attack by Russia, played a key role.

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