Kiev: A comedian whose political experience is limited to playing the president on TV is likely to top the first round as Ukrainians vote for a leader on Sunday, amid frustrations over living standards and corruption. Actor Volodymyr Zelensky’s bid started as a long shot but he has leapfrogged establishment politicians in the nation of 45 million that is fighting a Russia-backed separatist conflict in its east.
The 41-year-old star of the political comedy Servant of the People, which returned for its third season this week, had more than 25 per cent support in final surveys, well ahead of his nearest rivals. Incumbent Petro Poros-henko was vying with ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to face Zelensky in a run-off next month, according to polls.
One recent survey put them neck and neck at around 17 per cent, though another showed Poros-henko — who amassed a vast fortune in the chocolate business before being elected leader in 2014 — pulling ahead of ally-turned-foe Tymoshenko to make the second round.
In polling stations across Ukraine, voters expressed dissatisfaction with the candidates and many said they were opting for the least of three evils.
“I’m voting for anyone apart from Poroshenko. I don’t believe him, he cheated us,” said 40-year-old housewife Olga, who had come to a polling station in the Western city of Lviv with her young daughter.
“I’m just going to go into the booth and decide who to vote for. I just don't know. Definitely not for Zelensky,” said Irina, a 35-year-old manicurist....