Volodymyr Selenskyj did not distribute flyers, refused long public debates, and did not tour the country's many television channels. In other words, “Ze!”, As the actor and newcomer to politics is called because of the two initials of his name in Ukraine, drove a slightly different campaign. And at the presidential election spectacularly rushed past incumbent Poroshenko (read more about the backgrounds here).
The election victory of Volodymyr Selenskyj, 41, is a sensation. The policy newcomer a phenomenon. One that would hardly have been possible without a powerful supporter: Ihor Kolomojskyi.
“There are actually only two real candidates in this election – Petro Poroshenko and Ihor Kolomojskyj,” Vitaly Portnykov told German radio shortly before the election. He is one of the most influential publicists in the country and says: “Poroshenko and Ihor Kolomojskyj hold cards in this game.”
You could call the billionaire businessman, who sits on a fortune of about $ 1.1 billion, according to “Forbes”, in this context, possibly as the kingmaker. Or as a regicide. For Kolomojskyi, who made a name for himself in the banking, aviation and oil business, had no way around Ukraine for a long time. Until someone dared to dethrone the power of the oligarch sensitive: Petro Poroshenko. The man who now has to give up his position to Selenskyj.
Ukraine and her “servant of the people”
A brief review: The Ukraine was in an extreme situation. At the end of 2013 many Ukrainians dreamed of a democratic constitutional state without corruption. Citizen protests culminated in street battles. The state power fired on protesters. Over 100 people died. Head of state Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia. And Petro Poroshenko promised after the “revolution of dignity”, as it is called today, departure and change. Five years later, Poroshenko himself is accused of being too indecisive about corruption. In April 2016, there was even a suspicion that he might have used a mailbox company for money laundering or tax fraud.
Before Poroshenko was elected president in the first ballot in 2014, Kolomojskyi controlled airports, airlines, the private bank, and also in the gas and oil business Kolomojskyj was of great importance. The “world” quoted from an internal paper of German intelligence services: “The colossal financial influence of Igor Kolomojskyj on the political ranks of Ukraine allows him to practically dictate the rules of the game to the new leadership of the country.”
And Poroshenko dared to severely curtail Kolomoisksky's influence in a number of measures. He was deposed as governor, nationalizing the private bank, limiting his power in the oil and gas business.
How enthusiastic Kolomojskyi was about his dismissal as governor can be seen in a video. It was published by the Ukrainian Presidential Administration. Poroshenko and Kolomojskyi are sitting opposite each other. The president says placatingly: “I am sure that you will remain a patriot of Ukraine”. The stunned governor answers dryly: “Thanks for the cooperation.”
How better, the new president Volodymyr Selenskyj made even before taking office – at least in the eyes of many television viewers. In “Servant of the People” Selenskyj plays a history teacher who surprisingly becomes president and ruled a bit awkwardly, but incorruptibly and fundamentally. Only a few weeks ago, shortly before the elections, the third season of the extremely popular series started with pompous presidential debut. Perfect (election) program for the largely contentless campaign of his newly founded party, which incidentally also “Sluha Narodu” – ie “servant of the people” – means. You can see the political parody on the most popular channel of Ukraine “1plus1”, where the 2019 presidential election campaign was a focal point. Majority owner of the station: Ihor Kolomojskyj.
What goal could Ihor Kolomojskyj pursue?
Selenskyj does not answer at all narrowly on questions concerning financing of its election campaign and personal connection to Ihor Kolomojskyj. The fact that he has traveled to Vienna or Tel Aviv 13 times since the beginning of his TV series two years ago, the residence of the oligarchs, became known only through research by journalists. About it also reports “Time Online”. What goal could Kolomojskyj pursue? With Selenskyj's help, the critics believe, he wants to return to nationalized parts of his corporate empire.
Now Kolomojskyi could have the president as a powerful ally – so at least the fear of critics. The comedy series on Kolomojskyjs transmitter is meanwhile stopped for the time being. It was hotly debated to the last, whether “servant of the people” can go on with a new actor. But from circles of the series it was clear now: “Selenskyj – this person is irreplaceable.”
Swell: Deutschlandfunk, “Die Zeit”, “Die Welt”, “Forbes”, news agency DPA