Home NewsAfrica Smartphone in hand, Ukraine’s president takes centre stage in a capital under attack | News24

Smartphone in hand, Ukraine’s president takes centre stage in a capital under attack | News24

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People gather during a demonstration in support of Ukraine, following Russia's military intervention, on February 24, 2022, in Paris, France.

Folks collect throughout an indication in assist of Ukraine, following Russia’s navy intervention, on February 24, 2022, in Paris, France.

Esra TaÅkın/Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photos

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday addressed the nation by way of a video taken on his cell phone.
  • He has assured his residents that he’s not calling on the military to go away their obligation, as some faux reviews have mentioned.
  • Commentators responded to his video, which circulated broadly on social media.

The morning after Russian missiles rained down on Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the nation in his favorite fashion: the selfie video.

Unshaven, sporting a khaki jacket and flashing a smile, he informed the nation that opposite to reviews of him attempting to flee, he was staying put within the capital.

“Good morning to all Ukrainians! Recently there was numerous faux info on-line that I’m calling on our military to put down their arms and to evacuate. Hear. I’m right here,” he mentioned, in a video that obtained 3 million views on Instagram in an hour.

The setting was suitably eerie, with Zelenskiy standing within the morning mild in entrance of the “Home with Chimeras”, an Artwork Nouveau landmark lined in otherworldly animal figures throughout the highway from his presidential workplace in Kyiv.

It has been an unlikely transformation for the 44-year-old, who was a comic and actor with no political expertise earlier than he was elected as president in 2019 – besides when he performed a fictional president in a satirical TV sequence.

READ | Pope leads crowds in prayer for peace in Ukraine

Firstly of the disaster, some Ukrainians on social media feared Zelenskiy was out of his depth in opposition to veteran Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Moscow massed troops on the border to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He had been criticised for taking public swipes at the US and different pleasant powers when he felt they weren’t being sufficiently supportive.

However Zelenskiy’s refusal to evacuate with Russian troops closing in on Kyiv and his calm presence in social media movies has received plaudits, even from self-described sceptics.

“No matter occurs subsequent, historical past will bear in mind the easy bodily braveness Volodymyr Zelens’kyi shows in remaining in his capital, along with his individuals, amidst a horrible invasion, realizing that he’s its goal,” Timothy Snyder, a historical past professor specialising in Ukraine at Yale mentioned on Twitter.

Olena Halushka, an activist at a widely known Ukrainian anti-corruption organisation, mentioned on Twitter she had misjudged him. “I could not think about I will be pleased with him because the supreme commander. He’s worthy of our unbelievable nation.”

Stays

Zelenskiy has been a prolific social media consumer all through his time in politics, goading his rivals throughout the election marketing campaign in 2019, snapping footage and movies of himself on the gymnasium, in his workplace or addressing the nation with directions throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Critics and political rivals have typically sought to label him as a “clown” unsuited for prime workplace.

Earlier than 2019, he dressed up in buffoonish costumes on stage, carried out tune and dance acts and, because the fictional president on TV, drunkenly fell right into a swimming pool after a gathering with the pinnacle of the Worldwide Financial Fund.

Now, he’s posting movies attempting to provide reassurance.

In a earlier selfie video, he stood on the road along with his interior circle, exhibiting them that his chief of employees, prime minister and closest advisers had additionally not left the capital.

His fashion stands in distinction with Putin, who has typically saved even shut officers on the opposite facet of an extended desk throughout conferences throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Nassim Taleb, the best-selling creator of the ebook “The Black Swan”, in contrast Zelenskiy to the photographs that Putin has used prior to now to challenge energy, together with pictures of him driving bare-chested on horseback.

“Putin the poseur on horseback is hiding in his distant bunker, whereas Zelenski, the previous comic, is risking his life on the frontline,” he mentioned.

On digicam, Zelenskiy has spoken primarily in Ukrainian but in addition switched to Russian to deal with the Russian individuals, urging them to return out into the streets to protest the conflict.

Vyachslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s decrease home of parliament, asserted on Saturday with out proof that Zelenskiy had fled to the western metropolis of Lviv and that his self-recorded video appearances have been in truth pre-recorded.

There was heavy combating in a number of components of the nation on Saturday together with clashes within the capital, and there have been media reviews of Zelenskiy declining presents from overseas governments to be evacuated.

Requested to touch upon the reviews, Zelenskiy’s spokesman mentioned: “The president stays in Kyiv, the president stays along with his individuals. Nobody will run away or drop weapons.” 

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