Zelenskyi may turn out to be a better Ukrainian president than many expect, Eidman says

Volodymyr Zelenskyi during his inauguration on May 20, 2019

Photo: Mykola Lazarenko, president.gov.ua 

Op-ed

Many fear that the inexperienced Volodymyr Zelenskyy may prove to be a disaster as president of Ukraine, making the kind of mistakes that Vladimir Putin and others will exploit to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence. But there are reasons to think that he may turn out to be far better than such people expect, Igor Eidman says.

On Zelenskyy’s inauguration, the Russian commentator says that one should begin with the fact that “Ukrainians have elected as president a vital and contemporary individual, to the envy of neighbors who still have Soviet-style wax figures of former KGB officers and collective farm heads.”

To determine what kind of a president Zelenskyy will be, Eidman continues, will require that he be given at least 100 days. That is what his predecessor Petro Poroshenko was given and the fact that people are drawing final conclusions about Zelenskyy already is both strange and more than a little suspicious.

Those who think Zelenskyy will be a failure generally make one of two charges: he is someone who will capitulate to Putin or he is a puppet who will be manipulated by Kolomoyskyi. There are compelling reasons to think, Eidman argues, that neither of these predictions will prove true.

Up to now, he continues, Zelenskyy has behaved toward Putin in anything but the manner one would expect of someone who will capitulate to the Kremlin. He uses tough language regarding Russia and has repeatedly declare that Crimea and the Donbas are Ukrainian, not Russian, and that he doesn’t intend to surrender them.

“The Russian powers that be are trying to discredit the Ukrainian elections and their winner” for a very simple reason: Moscow has long insisted that “a democratic change of the powers in principle is impossible on the post-Soviet space and especially in ‘Banderite-fascist’ Ukraine.”

If it turns out that Zelenskyy, who came to power by means of election, is a successful president, Eidman says, “this will become not only a great thing for his Motherland but the beginning of the end of Putin” who already is facing Maidan-like actions in Yekaterinburg. “If Ukraine becomes an example of a rapidly developing country which changed power by democratic means,” those will spread.

As far as the charge that the new Ukrainian president is a Kolomoyskyi puppet is concerned, those who make it do not understand politics. If Zelenskyy in the past was only a successful showman and “Kolomoyskyi an all-powerful oligarch, “today everything is different: Zelenskyy is president of a country and Kolomoyskyi is a bourgeois on the run.”

“I am not a Zelenskyy supporter,” Eidman says. “But I sincerely wish him success as president because his success will be the success of Ukraine and any failure will be the failure of a country, love for which I took in literally with my mother’s milk who having been born in Kyiv, spent her childhood in Odessa” and remembered fondly all her life.

Moreover, if Zelenskyy is successful, it may very well become a victory for Russia as well, precisely because it will lead to the end of the Putin system.

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Edited by: A. N.

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