Horst D. Deckert

Zelensky without kitsch: From TV president to neoliberal autocrat

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Volodymyr Zelensky’s overwhelming election victory in 2019 was based on the hopes for peace of the vast majority of the Ukrainian people. His de facto nonexistent election platform was thereby replaced by his performance as Ukrainian president in a popular television series. But instead of promoting peace, Zelensky submitted to the extreme nationalists in Ukraine. Domestically, he enforced a neoliberal program of privatization and cutbacks. He banned opposition media, dismissed judges and dissolved parliament. Since the Russian invasion began in February 2022, he has tightened this grip even more. But it was the Russian invasion that turned Zelensky from a “comedian” into a democratic hero in the West.

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