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Ukrainian President Zelensky challenged by domestic political woes

Ukrainian President Zelensky challenged by domestic political woes

Posted February. 24, 2023 07:53,   

Updated February. 24, 2023 07:53


As the Ukraine war is prolonged, concerns are rising that President Volodymry Zelensky, who was hailed as a hero for saving his country by international society, is now facing internal backlash and domestic problems. Perennial issues temporarily buried under the wave of unity against the Russian invasion are now resurfacing.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that President Zelensky is facing greater responsibility for the corruption and deviations of the upper class of his own country for convincing Western countries to provide massive aid. A Western diplomat based in Ukraine said, “If President Zelensky struggles to maintain the momentum, then all the dirt will come back: the corruption allegations, political opponents, and the messy reform process.”

Criticism has been raised against Zelensky’s authoritative attitude, including controlling the media exposure of his political rivals. Valery Zeluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces and a top contender for the next presidential election dubbed “the Iron General,” is rarely getting the opportunities for media interviews as Zelensky is withholding the signoff.

Signs of discord are being detected too. According to the Russian state-run broadcaster RT on Wednesday, Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, which was recovered from Russia in September, was fined for violating the country’s national language law after using Russian on social media. The population of the city is primarily ethnic Russian. Mr. Terekhov was fined for using Russian in a broadcast in November last year.

As the war continues, concerns are raised that President Zelensky’s increasingly hawkish stance against the growing fatigue of the Ukrainian people might weaken public support. “A,m I satisfied with him as president? I don’t ask myself that question,” said Kostyantyn Petrushevskiy, a former colleague of Mr. Zelensky’s during his comedy acting days. “But it will be until the end of the war.”

Controversies are also brewing over the eVorog (“eEnemy”), which was developed by Ukraine and hosted on Telegram in March last year to gather intelligence about the Russian military. The Economist pointed out that the Ukrainians in Russian-occupied regions are faced with the danger of retaliation once they are found to have submitted information through the eVorog.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com