Reality bites: Ukraine’s President Zelensky puts showbiz pals in positions of real power
Volodymyr Zelensky went from playing the Ukrainian President on TV to taking on the job for real. Now he is bringing his showbiz friends into the government, because why not? The show must go on…
Before Zelensky was sworn in on Monday, he spent years playing a fictitious president of Ukraine in the popular sitcom, ‘Servant of the People’. Apparently figuring that what worked well in the world of TV fantasy would work in reality, he’s stuffing his new cabinet with familiar faces from his production crew.
Sergey Trofimov, a long-time executive producer at Zelensky’s entertainment company ‘Kvartal 95,’ has been named First Deputy Head of the Administration, which is like a deputy chief of staff. Script writer Yuri Kostyuk – a veteran of the show – is going to try his luck in the real world after also being given a senior position in the administration. And that’s just the beginning.
Zelensky rallied much of his support with a vow to fight corruption, and unqualified friends are taking up top jobs to help him do it.
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Ivan Bakanov, the president’s childhood friend who lived in the same apartment complex as Zelensky and went to the same school, is now going to be working in the same government.
Bakanov was a co-founder of ‘Kvartal 95’ with Zelensky and was in charge of its legal department, at least until Wednesday when he was appointed the First Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the nation’s top spy and law enforcement agency.
In that capacity, he is set to lead the SBU’s anti-corruption department, including investigating how officials could be abusing their positions of authority.
Zelensky won 73 percent of the popular vote in April when he unseated candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko in a runoff election. He ran a bombastic campaign, with colorful ads and drug tests for the main contenders. The highlight of the race was a grandiose debate between Zelensky and Poroshenko held at Kiev’s Olympic stadium.
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