On Thursday, the world's eyes turned to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Russia launched a 'military operation' against its neighbour. The comedian-turned politician has found himself at the centre of the biggest offensive in Europe since World War II.
"We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities" wrote Zelenskyy in a social post as Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.
On Saturday, Zelenskyy refused American help to evacuate him from Ukraine, according to Associated Press. "We're all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We're all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way," said Zelenskyy while standing outside the presidency building, in a video that has now gone viral on social media.
The 44-year-old became president in 2019, however, before assuming the role, he portrayed a fictional President of Ukraine in a TV show in the same year.
Here is all you need to know about Ukraine's reel to real-life President:
Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy was born on January 25, 1978, in Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine which at that time was under the Soviet Union. He was born to Jewish parents making him a minority in the region. He also is a Russian speaker.
Zelenskyy attended school in Kryvyy Rih. He later attended Kryvyi Rih Institute of Economics, then a department of Kyiv National Economic University and now part of Kryvyi Rih National University. He earned a law degree from here, however, he never worked in the legal field.
Zelenskyy instead went into the entertainment field, becoming a comedian. He spent many years with the Kvartal 95, comedy troupe. He also starred in several TV shows and feature films.
However, his most famous role was in 'Servant of the People,' a TV show which aired between 2015 and 2019. In the show, Zelenskyy played a high-school history teacher in his 30s who won the presidential election after a viral video showed him ranting against the Ukrainian government. The show tackled corruption within the Ukrainian government and became a huge hit among the people of the country.
The year the show ended, Zelenskyy announced his candidature for the presidential position.
Zelensky's ascend in politics came aside a tumultuous period in the history of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia seized Crimea and supported the separatist movement in East Ukraine. The same year, the then-president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office following massive protests. Petro Poroshenko became the President of fragile Ukraine in 2014.
It was the 'anti-corruption' sentiment among the population that paved for Zelenskyy, who portrayed himself as an anti-corruption leader in 'Servant of the People', to eventually become the leader of the country.
In 2019, he contested the election for the post of President and decisively defeated incumbent Poroshenko. Zelenskyy's victory was a landslide as he gained 73.2% of the votes. On May 20, 2019, he was sworn in as the sixth President of Ukraine.
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