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Comedian Appears to Win Election in Landslide

Exit polls suggest Volodymyr Zelenskiy just won
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2019 2:37 PM CDT
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and Ukrainian presidential candidate and popular comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, right, argue their debates at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, April...   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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(Newser) – A comedian whose only political experience consists of playing a president on TV appeared headed for a landslide victory in Ukraine's real-life presidential election Sunday, the AP reports. Exit-poll results released after voting stations closed showed sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy receiving an extraordinary 73.2%—or nearly three out of every four votes cast—to President Petro Poroshenko's 25.3%. If borne out by election returns, the overwhelming victory by Zelenskiy would stand as a crushing rebuke to Poroshenko's five years in office and a verdict on the country's deep-seated corruption, sickly economy, and grinding war against Russian-backed separatists in the country's east that has killed over 13,000 people.

With official returns yet to be released, Poroshenko accepted defeat, saying: "I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics." Zelenskiy, for his part, vowed after the release of the exit polls: "I promise I will never let you down." And he suggested that his apparent victory could be a model for other former Soviet states that want to move forward from ossified politics. "To all the countries of the former Soviet Union—look at us, everything is possible," he said. Although Zelenskiy was criticized for a vague campaign platform and never holding public office, voters appeared to cast aside those concerns in favor of a thorough sweep of Ukraine's political leadership.

(Read more Ukraine stories.)

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