Stephen Siohan: “Zelensky, hero or martyr”, the first biography of the President of Ukraine

Stephen Siohan has published the first biography of the President of Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky has dominated our collective imagination as a hero.

A few days before the start of the war, there was a very strong question about the person of Volodymyr Zelensky, who was present as a peaceful conversation, ready to negotiate with the Russians. For part of Ukrainian society, there were serious doubts about its ability to cope with large-scale Russian aggression. Then, within a few hours, on February 24, Zelensky had to choose between becoming the leader of the warring country or leaving. He chose to resist and he took a huge step. No one in Europe has had this choice since 1945. Whether he is a hero or not, history will decide this question.

What is your first memory of him?

He was a very famous person, a funny, humorous and charming television character, a kind of impossible mix between Patrick Sebastian, Cyril Hanuna and Jean Dujardin. But towards the end of 2018 he really aroused my interest. Ukraine was heading for a presidential election that no one was excited about. Polling institutes then began testing various personalities, including Volodymyr Zelensky. Then, on December 31, 2018, Zelensky officially announced his television candidacy. The law, at the time, was not trivialized on one of the country’s three main oligarchy channels.

Especially since Zelensky is known for a certain role.

He was best known for his talk shows, his comedy shows, and then the “Servant of the People” series, which introduced him as a history teacher who accidentally became president. Which was a huge success. At the time, the show was aired on the channel where he famously announced his candidacy in 2018, and was owned by a powerful oligarch, Ihor Komolovsky, who opposed the outgoing president. In early 2019, so we find ourselves with a candidate, Zelensky, who made his career as an audiovisual producer, and so his fortune, through a contract signed with one of the richest and most influential people in the country. During the presidential campaign, this same television group will offer candidate Zhelensky all his powers. The series featuring him as president will be broadcast in prime time even before the election!

Selected, “Zelensky is a chameleon that paints itself with the aspirations of its fellow citizens rather than offering them a way”, you write.

It is difficult to know his ideology and his movement. This clearly falls into the category of “catch-all” team, which does not fit the normal division. He is fascinated by Emmanuel Macron, a liberal, business-minded, “experts”. He masters modern communication codes but has no defined political backbone. However, as a young country and a former Soviet satellite, Ukraine is not defined by a classic right-left divide. The division between those who are in favor of harmony with Western values ​​and those who are more reluctant.

You also explain that he is Russian speaking.

Born in 1978, he embodied a generation of Ukrainians “by passport”. He grew up in an independent country, spoke Russian about his family and his profession, spent part of his career in Russia and did not feel nationalist. Then, like many Ukrainians, he was forced to position himself in the face of Russian aggression by adopting a very strong patriotic stance. Since the Maidan incident in 2014, Russian-speaking Ukrainians have rallied around the notion of a pro-European Ukraine. But today, the revival of the population further expands this movement.

What could happen to Zelensky and his country?

There are two scenarios. The Kremlin, whose goal is to destroy Ukraine as a nation. In that case, Zelensky, who has already escaped at least two assassination attempts, will disappear. The second would be a counter-attack on Ukraine and why not a military victory. So he has two destinies in front of him: to be a hero or a martyr. Although, for me, Zelensky is a hero only because the Ukrainians themselves are heroes. Because there are some people in Ukraine who are ready to put their ideas before their personal comfort, ready to defend the future of their country even if it means endangering their physical integrity.

Volodymyr Zelensky, on the head of a hero, Robert-Lafont, 19.9.

Macron called on Putin for talks

Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz had an 80-minute telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin on Saturday. They tell him to start “Serious Direct Discussion” And call “For a diplomatic solution to the conflict With President Zelensky of Ukraine. They stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and the release of 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who had been stationed at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks. “Dangerous nature of flooding Ukraine with Western weapons, warning of the risk of further destabilization of the situation”. Russia is also willing to discuss a solution to allow Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from the Black Sea port. On the battlefield, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had full control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman.

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