Following the victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s presidential elections, the country will become the only one in the world besides Israel whose president and prime minister are both Jewish.
When Zelensky is sworn in as president, his prime minister — at least for a while and possibly until the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place sometime later this year — will be Volodymyr Groysman, a Jewish politician who was the mayor of the city of Vinnytsia.
To some of incumbent Petro Poroshenko’s critics, the landslide success of the vague campaign by the politically inexperienced Zelensky, a comedian, was not surprising in light of widespread resentment over the persistence of corruption under Poroshenko, who was elected in 2014 on a platform that vowed remedial action on exactly that front.
More unusual to some, however, was how Zelensky’s appears to have won the elections so decisively in spite of how his Jewish ancestry – his mother, Rima, is Jewish and he has jokingly referred to this during the campaign — is well known in Ukraine.
After all, Russia and other critics claim Ukrainian society has a serious anti-Semitism problem and legacy.
“Imagine, a pure-blooded Jew with the appearance of a Sholom Aleichem protagonist wins by a landslide in a country where the glorification of Nazi criminals is enacted into law,” wrote Avigdor Eskin, a Russian-Israeli columnist, in an analysis published earlier this month by the Regnum news agency.