Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy

NameVolodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy
DOB25 January 1978
(Age 45 Yr. )

Personal Life

Education L.L.B
Religion Jewish
Nationality Ukrainian
Profession Politician, Actor, Comedian
Birth Place Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union,

Physical Appearance

Height 5 feet 5 inches
Weight 65 kg (approx.)
Eye Color Dark Brown
Hair Color Black

Family Status

Parents

Father: Oleksandr Zelensky

Mother: Rymma Zelenska

Marital Status Married
Spouse

Olena Kiyashko ​(m. 2003)​

Childern/Kids

Daughter- Oleksandra Zelenska

Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy is a Ukrainian politician who has been serving as the sixth president of Ukraine since 2019. He was formerly a comedian and actor.

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 a fictional Ukrainian president. The series aired from 2015 to 2019 and was immensely popular. A political party with the same name as the TV 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 makes extensive use of 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 the first two years of 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 limited progress in tackling corruption in Ukraine.

Early life

Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy was born to Jewish parents on 25 January 1978 in Kryvyi Rih, then in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. His father, Oleksandr Zelenskyy, is a professor and computer scientist and the head of the Department of Cybernetics and Computing Hardware at the Kryvyi Rih State University of Economics and Technology; his mother, Rymma Zelenska, used to work as an engineer. His grandfather, Semyon (Simon) Ivanovych Zelenskyy [uk], served as an infantryman, reaching the rank of colonel in the Red Army (in the 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division) during World War II; Semyon's father and three brothers were killed in the Holocaust. In March 2022, Zelenskyy said that his great-grandparents had been killed after German troops burned their home to the ground during a massacre.

Before starting elementary school, Zelenskyy lived for four years in the Mongolian city of Erdenet, where his father worked. Zelenskyy grew up speaking Russian. At the age of 16 he passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language and received an education grant to study in Israel, but his father did not allow him to go. He later earned a law degree from the Kryvyi Rih Institute of Economics, then a department of Kyiv National Economic University and now part of Kryvyi Rih National University, but never worked in the legal field.

Entertainment career

At age 17, he joined his local team competing in the KVN comedy competition. He was soon invited to join the united Ukrainian team "Zaporizhia-Kryvyi Rih-Transit", which performed in the KVN's Major League, and eventually won in 1997. That same year, he created and headed the Kvartal 95 team, which later transformed into the comedy outfit Kvartal 95. From 1998 to 2003, Kvartal 95 performed in the Major League and the highest open Ukrainian league of KVN, and the team members spent a lot of time in Moscow and constantly toured around post-Soviet countries. In 2003, Kvartal 95 started producing TV shows for the Ukrainian TV channel 1+1, and in 2005, the team moved to fellow Ukrainian TV channel Inter.

In 2008, he starred in the feature film Love in the Big City, and its sequel, Love in the Big City 2. Zelenskyy continued his movie career with the film Office Romance. Our Time in 2011 and with Rzhevsky Versus Napoleon in 2012. Love in the Big City 3 was released in January 2014. Zelenskyy also played the leading role in the 2012 film 8 First Dates and in sequels which were produced in 2015 and 2016. He recorded the voice of Paddington Bear in the Ukrainian dubbing of Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017).

Zelenskyy was a member of the board and the general producer of the TV channel Inter from 2010 to 2012.

In August 2014, Zelenskyy spoke out against the intention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to ban Russian artists from Ukraine. Since 2015, Ukraine has banned Russian artists and Russian media and art from entering Ukraine. In 2018, the romantic comedy Love in the Big City 2 starring Zelenskyy was banned in Ukraine due to the film not following the Law of Ukraine on cinematography.

After the Ukrainian media had reported that during the Russo-Ukrainian War Zelenskyy's Kvartal 95 had donated ₴1 million to the Ukrainian army, some Russian politicians and artists petitioned for a ban on his works in Russia. Once again, Zelenskyy spoke out against the intention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to ban Russian artists from Ukraine.

In 2015, Zelenskyy became the star of the television series Servant of the People, where he played the role of the president of Ukraine. In the series, Zelenskyy's character was a high-school history teacher in his 30s who won the presidential election after a viral video showed him ranting against government corruption in Ukraine.

The comedy series Svaty ("In-laws"), in which Zelenskyy appeared, was banned in Ukraine in 2017, but unbanned in March 2019.

Zelenskyy worked mostly in Russian-language productions. His first role in the Ukrainian language was the romantic comedy I, You, He, She, which appeared on the screens of Ukraine in December 2018. The first version of the script was written in Ukrainian but was translated into Russian for the Lithuanian actress Agnė Grudytė. Later, the movie was dubbed into Ukrainian.

In October 2021, the Pandora Papers revealed that Zelenskyy, his chief aide, and the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov operated a network of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and Belize. These companies included some that owned expensive London property. Around the time of his 2019 election, Zelenskyy handed his shares in a key offshore company over to Serhiy Shefir, but the two men appear to have made an arrangement for Zelenskyy's family to continue receiving the money from these companies. Zelenskyy's election campaign had centred on pledges to clean up the government of Ukraine.

2019 presidential campaign

In March 2018, members of Zelenskyy's production company Kvartal 95 registered a new political party called Servant of the People – the same name as the television program that Zelenskyy had starred in over the previous three years. Although Zelenskyy denied any immediate plans to enter politics and said he had registered the party name only to prevent it being appropriated by others, there was widespread speculation that he was planning to run. As early as October 2018, three months before his campaign announcement and six months before the presidential election, he was already a frontrunner in opinion polls. After months of ambiguous statements, on 31 December, less than four months from the election, Zelenskyy announced his candidacy for president of Ukraine on the New Year's Eve evening show on the TV channel 1+1. His announcement up-staged the New Year's Eve address of incumbent president Petro Poroshenko on the same channel, which Zelenskyy said was unintentional and attributed to a technical glitch.

Zelenskyy's presidential campaign against Poroshenko was almost entirely virtual. He did not release a detailed policy platform and his engagement with mainstream media was minimal; he instead reached out to the electorate via social media channels and YouTube clips. In place of traditional campaign rallies, he conducted stand-up comedy routines across Ukraine with his production company Kvartal 95. He styled himself as an anti-establishment, anti-corruption figure, although he was not generally described as a populist. He said he wished to restore trust in politicians, "to bring professional, decent people to power" and to "change the mood and timbre of the political establishment". On 16 April 2019, a few days before the election, 20 Ukrainian news outlets called on Zelenskyy to "stop avoiding journalists". Zelenskyy stated that he was not hiding from journalists but that he did not want to go to talk shows where "people of the old power" were "just doing PR" and that he did not have time to satisfy all interview requests.

Presidency

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.

Cabinets and administration

Zelenskyy appointed Andriy Bohdan as head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. Prior to this, Bohdan had been the lawyer of Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Under the rules of Lustration in Ukraine, introduced in 2014 following Euromaidan, Bohdan is not entitled to hold any state office until 2024 (because of his government post during the Second Azarov Government). Bohdan, however, contended that because heading the presidential administration is not considered civil service work, lustration did not apply to him. A number of the members of the Presidential Administration Zelenskyy appointed were former colleagues from his former production company, Kvartal 95, including Ivan Bakanov, who became deputy head of the Ukrainian Secret Service. Former deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal declined an appointment as deputy head of the presidential administration, but did agree to serve as the Ukrainian representative of the international courts concerning Russia. Zelenskyy's requests to replace the foreign minister, defence minister, chief prosecutor and head of Ukraine's security service were rejected by parliament. Zelenskyy also dismissed and replaced 20 of the governors of Ukraine's 24 oblasts.

 

Political views


Economic issues

In a mid-June interview with BIHUS info [uk] a representative of the president of Ukraine at the Cabinet of Ministers, Andriy Herus stated that Zelenskyy had never promised to lower communal tariffs, but that a campaign video in which Zelenskyy stated that the price of natural gas in Ukraine could fall by 20–30 per cent or maybe more was a not a direct promise but actually "half-hinting" and "joking". Zelenskyy's election manifesto mentioned tariffs only once—that money raised from a capital amnesty would go towards "lowering the tariff burden on low-income citizens".

Foreign policy

During his presidential campaign, Zelenskyy said that he supported Ukraine's becoming a member of the European Union and NATO, but he said Ukrainian voters should decide on the country's membership of these two organisations in referendums. At the same time, he believed that the Ukrainian people had already chosen "eurointegration". Zelenskyy's close advisor Ivan Bakanov also said that Zelenskyy's policy is supportive of membership of both the EU and NATO, and proposes holding referendums on membership. Zelenskyy's electoral programme claimed that Ukrainian NATO membership is "the choice of the Maidan and the course that is enshrined in the Constitution, in addition, it is an instrument for strengthening our defense capability". The program states that Ukraine should set the goal to apply for a NATO Membership Action Plan in 2024. The programme also states that Zelenskyy "will do everything to ensure" that Ukraine can apply for European Union membership in 2024. Two days before the second round, Zelenskyy stated that he wanted to build "a strong, powerful, free Ukraine, which is not the younger sister of Russia, which is not a corrupt partner of Europe, but our independent Ukraine".

 

Russo-Ukrainian War

Zelenskyy and Russian president Putin meeting in Paris on 9 December 2019 in the "Normandy Format" aimed at ending the war in Donbas
Zelenskyy supported the late 2013 and early 2014 Euromaidan movement. During the war in Donbas, he actively supported the Ukrainian army. Zelenskyy helped fund a volunteer battalion fighting on Donbas.

In a 2014 interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine, Zelenskyy said that he would have liked to pay a visit to Crimea, but would avoid it because "armed people are there". In August 2014, Zelenskyy performed for Ukrainian troops in Mariupol and later his studio donated ₴1 million to the Ukrainian army. Regarding the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, Zelenskyy said that, speaking realistically, it would be possible to return Crimea to Ukrainian control only after a regime change in Russia.

In an interview in December 2018 with Ukrainska Pravda, Zelenskyy stated that as president he would try to end the ongoing war in Donbas by negotiating with Russia. As he considered the leaders of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic (DPR and LPR) to be Russia's "puppets", it would "make no sense to speak with them". He did not rule out holding a referendum on the issue. In an interview published three days before the 2019 presidential election (on 21 April), Zelenskyy stated that he was against granting the Donbas region "special status". In the interview he also said that if he were elected president he would not sign a law on amnesty for the militants of the DPR and LPR.

In response to suggestions to the contrary, he stated in April 2019 that he regarded Russian president Vladimir Putin "as an enemy". On 2 May 2019, Zelenskyy wrote on Facebook that "the border is the only thing Russia and Ukraine have in common".

Zelenskyy opposes the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, calling it "a dangerous weapon, not only for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe."

On 25 May 2022, Zelenskyy said that "Ukraine will fight until it regains all its territories."

Zelenskyy has described the extensive environmental damage from the war as “an environmental bomb of mass destruction” and "an ecocide" (a crime in Ukraine) and has met with prominent European politicians and others to discuss the environmental damage.

Government reform

During the presidential campaign, Zelenskyy promised bills to fight corruption, including removal of immunity from the president of the country, members of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) and judges, a law about impeachment, reform of election laws, and providing efficient trial by jury. He promised to bring the salary for military personnel "to the level of NATO standards".

Although Zelenskyy prefers elections with open list election ballots, after he called the snap 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election his draft law "On amendments to some laws of Ukraine in connection with the change of the electoral system for the election of people's deputies" proposed to hold the election with closed list because the 60-day term to the snap election did not "leave any chances for the introduction of this system".

Social issues

Zelenskyy opposed targeting the Russian language in Ukraine and banning artists for their political opinions (such as those viewed by the Government as anti-Ukrainian). In April 2019, he stated that he was not against a Ukrainian language quota (on radio and TV), although he noted they could be tweaked. He also said that Russian artists "who have turned into (anti-Ukrainian) politicians" should remain banned from entering Ukraine.

In response to a petition demanding equal rights for same-sex couples, Zelenskyy echoed the view that family does not depend on sex and asked the Prime Minister of Ukraine to review civil partnerships for same-sex couples. With regards to same-sex marriage, Zelenskyy cited a provision in the Constitution of Ukraine barring same-sex marriage, as well as a ban on wartime changes to the Constitution, ruling out an introduction of same-sex marriages during the ongoing war. Civil rights organizations praised the statement, though criticizing its vagueness, as Zelenskyy had avoided giving any details about legal proposals for civil partnerships.

On 2 December 2022, Zelenskyy entered a bill to the Verkhovna Rada that would officially ban all activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) UOC in Ukraine.

Personal life

In September 2003, Zelenskyy married Olena Kiyashko, with whom he had attended school and university. Kiyashko worked as a scriptwriter at Kvartal 95. The couple's first daughter, Oleksandra, was born in July 2004. Their son, Kyrylo, was born in January 2013. In Zelenskyy's 2014 movie 8 New Dates, their daughter played Sasha, the daughter of the protagonist. In 2016, she participated in the show The Comedy Comet Company Comedy's Kids and won ₴50,000. The family lives in Kyiv.

Zelenskyy's first language is Russian, and he is also fluent in Ukrainian and English. His assets were worth about ₴37 million (about US$1.5 million) in 2018.

Awards and decorations
 

On 27 March 2022, Slovakia awarded Zelenskyy one of the country's top awards, the State Award of Alexander Dubček. Eduard Heger, the Slovak prime minister, compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. British newspaper Financial Times selected Zelenskyy as Person of the Year in 2022. US magazine Time also selected Zelenskyy as Person of the Year in 2022.