President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine came to power by accident of fame or showbusiness. He was neither a politician nor a technocrat but a movie star. Born on 25 January 1978 he is married to Olena Kiyachko, a dashing elegant lady he met in the university as a student in Kiev. And the marriage is blessed with two children, Oleksandra and Kirilo.
Nothing prepared him for the presidency except playing in a 2015 serialised televised humorous movie titled ‘The People’s Servant’ (Sluha Naroda). He professionally played the role of a College Professor, Vasyl Holoborodko, who went on, despite the odds, to become the President of Ukraine.
Before dabbling into politics accidentally Zelensky had won the 2006 edition of ‘Dance With The Stars’ the Ukrainian edition. He was a television presenter who anchored ‘Vetcherny Kvartal’, (Evening Quarters), a popular prime-time TV series on national television.
Historically, the global politics has, over time, produced and witnessed the transmogrification of entertainment stars from show-business to politics at its highest level. The United States saw a Hollywood star actor become President, the late popular Ronald Reagan. In the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, a film actor, was elected President despite his notoriety. Before then he was the Mayor of the capital city, Manila.
In Africa a retired soccer legend, George Weah, presently presides over the destiny of Liberia as President. In Nigeria the evangelical ex-music star, Pastor Kris Okotie, had sought unsuccessfully to book residence in Aso Rock as President. Despite claiming wildly that God had annointed him to rule over Nigeria his presidential efforts had always ended in failures!
Announcing his candidacy for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election the then incumbent President, Petro Poroshenko, had dismissed his principal opponent, Zelensky, as a neophyte and presidential wannabe but the latter stunned him by pulling a landslide victory.
In the first round of the election Zelensky came out ahead with 30,2 percent of the total votes cast beating to the second position the former President, Porochenko, who polled 15,9 %. The favourite and former Prime Minister, Loulia Tymochenko, got 13,4 %.
And weeks later, in the second decisive round, Zelensky obtained 73,2 % of the total votes (something that represented a landslide in Ukrainian presidential poll history) trouncing his challenger, Poroshenko.
Since February 14th when the Kremlin brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin, decided to invade Ukraine in what he termed a ‘Special Military Operation’ aimed at ‘demilitarizing’ and ‘de-Nazifying’ the neighbouring Ukraine President Zelensky had demonstrated strong leadership seldom seen in leaders at a great moment of national tragedy and peril.
Thus far, the young charismatic man has shown the way leading by example. He had refused the offer by the US to help him go into exile very early in the invasion abandoning his executive suit for martial outfits. As bombs and explosions rocked cities and towns Zelensky mobilized his troops urging the populace to put up fierce resistance.
Putin has been demystified by the Ukrainian organized resistance to his ambitious territorial conquest. The Russian strong man had wanted a total swift invasion but he had failed in that desperate attempt. Putin must have been stupefied by the courage, character, patriotism and intrepidity of the man he underrated or underestimated.
The military armada Putin unleashed on Ukraine came very close to Kiev but in the end they beat a hasty retreat, unable to penetrate a fortified capital city where almost everyone was armed (including the former heavyweight boxing Champion, Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kiev) and ready for the ultimate sacrifice.
The city trembled under the indiscriminate bombardments and shellings but it never fell! Heroically the people of Ukraine proved to the outside world that a people united can patriotically withstand any military onslaught from a nuclear superpower.
Today, heroic tales of fierce resistance and even re-conquest of hitherto conquered territories abound. Putin and his military dogs of war are being defeated in their own game. Bodybags of killed and wounded Russian soldiers are piling up!
Putin is visibly frustrated and this frustration has now led him to be engaging in nuclear sabre-rattling. He had recently signed a decree annexing the four Ukrainian regions after organizing a sham referendums no serious nation recognised. Like Crimea Putin is brandishing the seizing of the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. And Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The annexation followed a criminal familiar pattern used in the annexation of Crimea after an illegitimate referendum in 2014. But unlike then even Crimea is not spared now of the reach of the Ukrainians as they fight it out for their lives, their sovereignty.
With massive military and financial support from the West (led ably by the US) the Russian soldiers are meeting their match, their waterloo on different fronts. Foreign volunteers are also trooping in to help Ukraine defend her violated territorial integrity.
Daily, at night hours, Zelensky addresses a visual message to his people informing them of the situation on the ground and urging them to fight on. Dutifully he had addressed a number of parliaments (including the powerful US Congress) via a video conference. And the African Union meeting. He speaks a couple of foreign languages including Russian and English.
President Zelensky defies Putin without fear or complex. He believes in the national pride and exhibits a rare image of a man of the people supremely dedicated to the cause of national salvation.
In this trying dangerous time in the life of a nation we commend President Zelensky for his quality leadership. He daily demonstrates how best to lead a people terrorized and a nation bloodied and battered. We salute his uncommon patriotism, courage and staying power!
The Kremlin autocrat must be defeated diplomatically and militarily in Ukraine if only to prove right the assertion of the late US President, George H. Bush, after the invasion of Kuwait by the late Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein: “No longer would an aggressor be allowed to exploit the (military) differences in power to foster his political ambition”.
Putin deserves a bloody nose! And one he must get!
AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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