April 21 (UPI) — Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in a presidential runoff election on Sunday.
Zelensky, a political newcomer who plays a school teacher that is elected president on a Ukrainian TV show, won 72.7 percent of the vote over Poroshenko’s 27.2 percent to secure a landslide victory in the second and final round of voting.
“I want to thank you all for being with us all these four months,” Zelensky said in a video shared to his Facebook page. “We united Ukraine, we united our lives, we united our people.”
Zelensky, 41, emerged at the top of a field of 39 candidates at the beginning of the month, earning 30 percent of the vote to Poroshenko’s 17 percent in the first round of the election.
He continued to perform stand-up comedy during the election and was fined by police for violating Ukrainian voting regulations by displaying his ballot to cameras while voting on Sunday.
Poroshenko conceded on Sunday evening and issued a series of tweets promising to remain in politics and prevent Russia from returning the Ukraine to its “orbit of influence” after the election of a “new inexperienced Ukrainian president.”
“As one of the key political leaders in Ukraine, I will remain at Ukraine’s service and will keep championing EU and NATO integration agenda, decentralization, security and anticorruption reforms.
Zelensky said he plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to attempt to settle the conflict between the two countries but vowed to “never sacrifice” Ukraine’s territories and people.
“The integrity of Ukraine should be constant,” he said.
His platform also strongly relied on fighting corruption and pledging to strip the president lawmakers and judges of legal immunity.
“I am not a politician,” Zelensky said. “I am just a simple person who has come to break down the system.”