Conflicts & War

War turns Zelenskyy into national hero, symbol of resistance

Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 26 (EFE).- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen Volodymyr Zelenskyy, an actor with no prior political experience when he came into power in 2019, become a symbol of resistance, patriotism and national unity.

Zelenskyy, who famously refused Western offers to evacuate Kyiv in the early days of the war despite the proximity of the invading Russian forces, has forged an image as a courageous leader who has remained by his people’s side at their hour of need.

“He has become a symbol of the resistance, courage and heroism of the Ukrainians in the fight against Russia,” Vladimir Fesenko, head of the Center for Applied Policy Research told Efe.

During the first days of the war, popular support for Zelenskyy soared to 91%, “a level that no president has reached before in the history of Ukraine”.

Zelenskyy won the 2019 elections with 73% of the vote as an anti-establishment candidate whose main priority was to fight corruption.

That was the reason Volodymyr Serebryansky voted for him despite – or even because of – his status as a political outsider, and his performance since Russia launched the war has shown that he was right to have faith in Zelenskyy.

“A lot of people had doubts about our president at first, but now he has great support and I think he is doing very well,” the 45-year-old Lviv resident told Efe.

Zelenskyy’s strong stance has been inspirational to Ukrainians fighting Russian troops who invaded over a month ago, Serebryansky added.

His patriotic speeches have also inspired Annika Udovenko, 27, even though she did not vote for him nor was she optimistic about his term in office.

“I believe that he is doing very well and that his actions will lead our country to victory,” Udovenko, who came to Lviv after fleeing the capital, told Efe.

“Even his opponents now recognize that he is doing a good job,” Udovenko, who volunteers and donates money to the armed forces, added.

Ukrainian Army officer Emerald Evgeniya, 32, says she is “proud of Ukraine, Ukrainians and the president”.

“Our president is a wonderful person and everyone is proud of him. Of course, he has stayed in Ukraine to protect our country and is fighting just as much as we, the military,” she told Efe.

Beyond regularly addressing foreign parliaments and international forums, Zelenskyy has been posting video messages to Ukrainian citizens on Telegram every day at dawn, reporting the situation with emotional language to boost national sentiment.

“Glory to Ukraine and glory to its heroes”, the slogan that concludes his speeches, has become a common greeting in Ukraine in these times of war. EFE


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