Magazine article Tablet Magazine

As Ukraine's New Jewish President Takes Office, Challenges Mount

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

As Ukraine's New Jewish President Takes Office, Challenges Mount

Article excerpt

Yesterday, after an intensely hard fought and nasty presidential campaign that included accusations of drug abuse, treasonous corruption, and one candidate accusing the other of being a secret agent of Russian President Putin, Ukraine inaugurated 41-year-old Jewish comedian Volodymyr Zelensky as its sixth president. It was a stunning victory and augured a popular revolt against the professional political class. Zelensky had ascended to the presidency with about three-quarters of all votes cast, having defeated the sitting president in 23 out of Ukraine's 24 regions, beating the fantastical score predicted in his fictional television show by several percentage points. The simulacrum of reality being overtaken by television had reached its logical denouement. Predictably enough, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not put in a congratulatory phone call to Kiev.

Standing at the tribunal in the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, Zelensky delivered a very strong and affecting inauguration speech, one which should be read by non-Ukrainians as well. …

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