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Comedian wins 'landslide victory' in Ukranian presidential election, exit polls indicate

Volodymyr Zelenski took 73 percent of the vote, according to exit polls.

Volodymyr Zelensky casting his vote.
Volodymyr Zelensky casting his vote.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

COMEDIAN VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY has won a landslide victory in the second round of voting in Ukraine’s presidential election, exit polls show, defeating incumbent leader Petro Poroshenko.

Zelensky, a 41-year-old whose only previous political experience was playing the president on television, took 73 percent of the vote, according to exit polls conducted by several think tanks.

“I will never let you down,” the TV star said at his campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls were published.

“While I am not formally president yet, as a citizen of Ukraine I can tell all post-Soviet countries: ‘Look at us! Everything is possible!’”

Poroshenko took 25 percent of the vote, losing to the television star across all regions of the country, including in the west where he traditionally enjoyed strong support. The remaining ballots were spoiled.

Zelensky plays a fictional president in the television series Servant of the People and is running as an anti-establishment figure in the elections. 

Poroshenko, a billionaire famous for his chocolate-making business Roshen, has been in office since being elected in 2014. 

The outgoing president said the results were “clear” and a reason to “call my opponent and congratulate him”.

“I will leave office but I want to firmly stress, I will not quit politics,” he added.

In 2014, Ukraine saw renewed conflict after Russian troops moved in, annexing Crimea, and prompting new sanctions to be introduced by the EU. 

It followed public unrest on the Crimean peninsula when president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia. 

Russia continues to control the region today. 

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