World Europe 06 Apr 2019 Ukraine’s poll ...

Ukraine’s poll rivals take drug test for debate

AFP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Apr 6, 2019, 2:09 am IST
Updated Apr 6, 2019, 2:09 am IST
Petro Poroshenko
 Petro Poroshenko

Kiev: Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky took drug tests on Friday ahead of their election runoff as the ex-Soviet country’s presidential race becomes increasingly sensational.

Zelensky, a 41-year-old actor best known in for playing the president in a TV show, is favourite to become Ukraine’s next leader after he dominated a first-round vote on March 31, despite many dismissing his candidacy as a joke.

Poroshenko, who is eager to make up lost ground before a run-off vote on April 21, invited his political novice rival to spar in an election debate.

Zelensky agreed but laid down a number of unusual conditions including a requirement for both of them to undergo medical tests to prove they do not abuse alcohol or drugs.

Zelensky also wants the debate to be held in the country’s biggest sports arena, Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, which seats over 70,000 people.

Poroshenko, 53, chose to play along, presenting himself to medics at a lab at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.

He rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt and had his blood drawn in a video broadcast live on his Facebook page.

“We are creating new traditions,” a smiling Poroshenko said during the procedure.

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