RPT: REVIEW - Zelenskiy's Key Statements On Way To Landslide Victory In Ukraine's Presidential Election

RPT: REVIEW - Zelenskiy's Key Statements on Way to Landslide Victory in Ukraine's Presidential Election

KIEV/MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 23rd April, 2019) Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who is winning in Ukraine's presidential runoff with over 70 percent of votes after more than 90 percent of ballots counted, has thanked fellow citizens for their "joint" victory, pledged to unite the country, stop the war and protect the Ukrainian language.

At a press conference at his campaign's headquarters, Zelenskiy frequently switched from the Ukrainian language to Russian, himself posed questions to the press and joked much.

Sputnik has collected the most colorful and important statements that Zelenskiy made during his campaign on various issues from the Donbas settlement, corruption and NATO membership to presidential residences and planes.

Zelenskiy led his presidential campaign unconventionally: instead of traditional meetings with voters, he traveled across the country with concerts, avoided meetings with journalists and gave preference to the format of video messages. For this reason, his debates with incumbent leader Petro Poroshenko at Kiev's Olimpiyskiy stadium on Friday drew such a huge interest.

"I am an ordinary person who has come to break this system. I am the result of your mistakes and promises, Petro Oleksiyovych," Zelenskiy said, opening his speech at the debates.

Further, addressing Poroshenko during the debates, he stated: "I am not your opponent, I am your verdict."

Many also remember the way Zelenskiy replied to the incumbent president, who had labeled him as a "pig in a poke."

"It's better to be a pig in a poke that a wolf in sheep's clothing," he retorted.

After polling places closed and exit polls predicted his landslide victory, Zelenskiy thanked Ukrainians for the results, saying that "we did it together." He stressed that the election had managed to make the country and the people more united.

During his campaign, Zelenskiy also pledged to "go for one [presidential] term to change the system for the future."

"I will not trade principles, reputation, the country for the sake of retaining power. I will be honest and loyal to Ukraine and hand it over to a new generation of politicians ... [I] Must win to give the country a chance," he said during the campaign.

CORRUPTION FIGHT, 'NEW FACES' IN POLITICS

The fight against corruption has been a core topic in Zelenskiy's campaign."

The winner of Ukraine's runoff pledged: "We will totally remove the corruption, we will install equal rules for everyone", "a corruption suspect will not be released on bail."

Moreover, it was the issue of corruption that the Zelenskiy-Poroshenko debates began with at the Olimpiyskiy stadium.

Opening his speech, Zelenskiy confessed that he voted for Poroshenko in 2014, but quickly remarked that it was a mistake.

"Could we, back then, imagine that his 'live in a new way' [the slogan of Poroshenko's previous campaign] will be our 'survive'? Could we back then imagine that his 'enrichment of people' will be the enrichment of only his people?" Zelenskiy wondered.

After the runoff, Zelenskiy unambiguously stated that he planned changes to the country's key posts. In particular, he said that Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko belonged to the officials of the "old team," and new people would be appointed to replace them.

New faces and "personnel changes" are also needed in the Normandy format on the Donbas conflict, according to Zelenskiy.

"In any case, we will act within the Normandy format, we will continue the Minsk process, we will restart it, I think that we will have a reshuffle in staff," Zelenskiy said at the briefing at his campaign headquarters in the late hours of Sunday.

The winner of the presidential race that his team was preparing a strategy for a "powerful information war" to put an end to hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

"We will launch a very powerful information war to end the war in Donbas," Zelenskiy said at the briefing.

Speaking about the future of Donbas throughout the campaign, Zelenskiy promised to try to negotiate a cessation of hostilities. According to him, Kiev needs to make a lot of efforts to win the trust of residents of eastern Ukraine. In particular, he said that an information war was need to break "a terrible information war" that separated the region from the rest of the country.

"These people in those territories who don't receive pensions ... And the fact that we don't speak with them - it is the most terrible. One of our ideas is a separate large European media portal that broadcasts in Russian, which is streamed throughout Europe, which says true things and reports about the events in Ukraine that they want to hear," Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy, nevertheless, rejected the possibility of direct talks with the self-proclaimed republics in Donbas. In a Thursday interview with the RBC Ukraine news agency, he also ruled out granting a special status to the region of Donbas as part of Ukraine, even though it is one of the provisions of the Minsk accords. He also stated that he would not grant amnesty to the members of Donbas' militias.

Zelenskiy previously stated that "as a Ukrainian citizen" he stood for the country's accession to NATO.

"But we have to explain people that NATO is not a dragon," Zelenskiy said. Later, he noted that he planned to put this issue to a referendum, as it concerns the interests of all citizens and such initiatives should be also discussed with people online.

"This is a very important point - to talk to people. Neither the Verkhovna Rada, nor the president, nor the prime minister are shareholders of reforms, shareholders of this country, shareholders of Ukraine. We and I are ... all citizens, shareholders of Ukraine. And, please, be kind - discuss everything with [us]," Zelenskiy declared.

Zelenskiy has also announced his intention to look for alternative energy supplies.

"I don't know this problem deeply, you have to understand me. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. I think that it is definitely necessary to put all possible options on the table in any task. In this task, I think we should look for alternative supplies, maybe, look for them in Western countries," Zelensky said.

During the campaign, Zelenskiy tried to avoid the issue of language as the one dividing Ukrainians, "as long as the war does not end in the country." The leader of the presidential race has repeatedly stated that the state language in the country should be Ukrainian, but it should be developed with the help of "carrot" and not "stick."

It is noteworthy that Zelenskiy, unlike his opponent, is not afraid of using the Russian language in communication. Both during the debates and at the briefing at this campaign headquarters, he constantly switched from Ukrainian to Russian.

Zelenskiy previously said that he considered it necessary to slightly review the quotas for the use of the Ukrainian language on radio and television, so that they do not infringe on the rights of national minorities.

CRIMEA, RUSSIA, PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCES

Throughout the campaign, Zelenskiy's team emphasized that he was not an anti-Russian candidate, but considered the Russian authorities to be "enemies." Ahead of the runoff, Zelenskiy claimed that his hypothetical conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin would concern "already returned territories" and "compensation."

During the campaign, Zelenskiy communicated with people via social media and pledged to continue the format, expressing wish to turn Ukraine into a digital country.

He also unexpectedly stated that he was going to abandon the presidential tradition of living in a special residence.

Zelenskiy also pledged to "sell to hell" at least two out of three presidential planes.

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