Smartphone in hand, Ukraine’s president takes centre stage in a capital under attack -Breaking
By Matthias Williams
LVIV Ukraine (Reuters). Immediately after Russian missiles fell upon Kyiv on Monday morning, Volodymyr Zeleskiy, Ukraine’s President, spoke to the nation with his preferred style: the selfie.
The man, who was unhavenly, dressed in khakis and smiling, told the nation that, contrary to the reports that he tried to flee the country, he would not be leaving the capital.
Good morning, all Ukrainians. There has been so much fake news online lately, I’m calling for our army to surrender their weapons and evacuate. Listen. He said “I am here” in a YouTube video that was viewed 3,000,000 times in one hour.
Zelenskiy stood in the early morning sunlight in front the House with Chimeras. This Art Nouveau landmark was covered with otherworldly animal figurines and is located across the street of his Kyiv Presidential Office.
This has been a surprising transformation for 44-year-old actor and comedian, who didn’t have any political experience prior to being elected in 2019. He did however play a fictional president on satirical television series.
Some Ukrainians on social networks feared Zelenskiy would lose against the veteran Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Moscow gathered troops at the border, it was ready to invade Ukraine.
He was criticised for making public insults to the United States and other friendlies when he didn’t feel they were being supportive enough.
However, Zelenskiy refused to leave Kyiv with Russian troops approaching. His calm presence on social media has earned him plaudits even from self-described skepticals.
“Whatever happens next, history will remember the simple physical courage Volodymyr Zelens’kyi displays in remaining in his capital, with his people, amidst a horrible invasion, knowing that he is its target,” Timothy Snyder, a history professor specialising in Ukraine at Yale said on Twitter (NYSE:).
Olena Halushka is an activist for a prominent Ukrainian anti-corruption organization. She claimed that she misjudged him on Twitter. He is a supreme commander that I can’t believe. Our incredible nation is proud of him.”
THE PRESIDENT STAYS
Zelenskiy is a prolific user of social media throughout his career in politics. He has taken photos and videos in the office as well as at the gym.
His critics and rivals in politics have tried to call him a “clown”, unfit for the highest office.
He was a buffoonish performer onstage, performing song and dance acts, and, before 2019, drunkenly fell in a pool following a meeting at the International Monetary Fund.
Now, he posts videos in an effort to provide reassurance.
He was seen in a selfie with his closest friends, showing that his prime minister, chief of staff and advisers have not yet left capital.
He is quite different from Putin who, during coronavirus pandemic meetings, has kept close friends on opposite sides of long tables.
The best-selling author “The Black Swan” Nassim Taleb compared Zelenskiy with images Putin used to project power in the past, such as images showing him naked on horseback.
He stated, “Putin on horseback, the poseur of amorality, is hiding from his remote bunker. Zelenski is risking the life of the frontline while the former comedian is at it.”
Zelenskiy spoke primarily in Ukrainian on camera but switched to Russian for the address to the Russian population, asking them to take to the streets and protest the war.
Vyachslav Volodin (speaker of Russia’s lower chamber of parliament) claimed that Zelenskiy fled to Lviv, and that his video appearances that he recorded were prerecorded.
On Saturday, there was fighting throughout the country. There were also clashes at the capital. Media reports have Zelenskiy declining foreign government offers to evacuate.
Zelenskiy’s spokesperson said, “The president remains in Kyiv. The president stays with his people.” Nobody will flee or give up weapons.