Immediately after the final exit polls of the first round of Ukrainian presidential elections were announced on March 31, Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s election campaign HQ held an ostentatious party where journalists were invited. It was very much in the spirit of Donald Trump’s celebration, but the showman went one step further by adding an impressive bar as the finishing touch.
Amongst other activities stood a ping pong table. A competition was held with the winner promised the exclusive right to interview the man himself - Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In the superfinal, the winning journalist from RBC Ukraine news agency who got to play against the candidate had the audacity to suggest that if he wins - the interview will take place before the second round of the elections. The journalist proceeded to win, so we are lucky to hear more of what Zelenskiy has to share with the people of Ukraine.
He suggested that in the shoes of the current president, Petro Poroshenko, he would leave politics.
"He could take the achievements he accomplished for the country with him. I think some things will be appreciated, other things - society won’t forgive. [To leave] would be the right decision," Zelenskiy said.
"[Poroshenko] is a rich man, he can afford to engage in charity work, some large-scale manufacturing business, and so on. There are plenty of options open to him."
In response to the question whether the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is an enemy Zelenskiy’s response was affirmative.
He also said that the Donbas region should not have a special status.
"Perhaps, information warfare could help us here. I very much hope that the information will help these people recover the understanding that they need Ukraine as much as Ukraine needs them and that they are as Ukrainian as the rest of us. ," the candidate said.
Zelenskiy also stated that he would not sign a law on the amnesty of the so-called "Donetsk People’s Republic" and “Luhansk People’s Republic” militants in the event that he is elected president.
When he was asked whether he plans to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada in case of winning the presidential election, Zelenskiy responded: "I'm afraid I won’t have time. I will not break the law - no chance of that. Only if we make it in time - six months before the next election, when we have the right to dissolve the parliament."
It should be noted that, by law, parliament can only be dissolved six months before the end of its powers, that is, until May 27.
Zelenskiy also said that he wants to have a majority in the Rada, but ruled out any coalitions with Petro Poroshenko and Yuriy Boyko.
Regarding the candidate’s much-discussed relationship with Ukrainian oligarch and owner of “1+1” media group where Zelenskiy’s shows are broadcasted, he insisted their communication concerned business affairs only.
The actor also spoke about his attitude to religion and the vision of its role in the life of the president. Whilst he does believe in God, religion is among the things he was brought up to never discuss in public. He is not intending to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, who attended churches publicly on camera - he would prefer to keep it private.
At the same time, Zelenskiy noted that he would swear an oath to the Gospel if he became president.
"Listen, there are things, there are traditions I won’t break. I will neither break the law nor traditions."
In case he becomes president of Ukraine and there is lack of support from members of the parliament for presidential initiatives, Zelenskiy will "make an appeal to the society" to "facilitate" the adoption of these laws.
"I am submitting a bill on the removal of immunity from MP, the president, judges. If it falls through, the people will notice. That’s it. I will then make such a statement that they will all be forced to face their voters. I don’t think there will be a problem with passing laws," Zelenskiy said, answering the journalist's question about how laws the society demands are going to be implemented.
He plans to continue communicating with the society through social networks, and revealed his idea to transfer presidential administration to another building. He also expressed a desire to reside in an open space style office or “some kind of unit”. Society permitting, he would prefer to give away the current presidential administration building to some “dunno”.
Zelenskiy won the first round of presidential elections with a healthy lead over the incumbent Poroshenko.
The latest polls suggest the current president stands no chance of winning the Sunday election.