Who is Volodymyr Zelensky?
Volodymyr Zelensky is the current and sixth President of Ukraine. He assumed office in May 2019 and is a member of the centrist political party Servant of the People.
Prior to entering politics, Zelensky was an actor and comedian with no political experience. During his two decades-long acting and comedy career, Zelensky voiced Paddington in the Ukrainian versions of the Paddington Bear films.
He was an unlikely candidate for the Ukrainian presidency. Nonetheless, in 2019, Zelensky was elected with a landslide victory following his anti-corruption election campaign that started as a joke but resonated with many voters.
During his 2019 presidential campaign, Zelensky also promised to bring the protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine to an end. Once president, in 2021, he signed a decree approving a ‘strategy for de-occupation and reintegration’ of Crimea into Ukraine.
Following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Zelensky applied martial law in Ukraine, announced diplomatic relations with Russia would be severed and announced a general mobilisation of Ukrainian resistance.
Zelensky is Jewish and the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the Russian invasion aims to ‘denazify’ Ukraine’s government.