From Violence to Vaudeville: How War Has Brought Comedians to Power
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia seemed to be on the same sad path - struggles among criminal groups leading to a corrupt political-economic system. Nonetheless, Ukraine twice managed to avoid the danger of becoming an authoritarian state. How is it that each protest in Ukraine has moved the country in a more democratic direction, whereas, protests in Russia have led to stronger repression? How come Ukraine's "oligarchic democracy" still works towards democracy and against oligarchs? What role in these processes has been played by the Ukrainian national mentality? How did the country come to have 350 political parties and two revolutions - one peaceful Orange one (2004-2005), and one less peaceful Euromaidan (2013-2014)? Was it all a long road leading to the war in Donbass or part of an even longer road leading to Europe? How do we understand the phenomenon of Vladimir Zelenski - a TV comedian elected as the President of Ukraine in 2019 who has filled his administration and the wider political apparatus with representatives of the show business industry, and mainly from his own comedy show - 'Block 95'? Can we compare the parliamentary activities of the president's party «Servant of the people» with the antics from the comedy show that gave its name to the party? Two years after the change of power, what are the consequences and prospects?
Andrey Kurkov is a Ukrainian novelist who writes in Russian and Ukrainian. He is the author of over 20 novels and 10 books for children. His work is currently translated into 37 languages, including English, Japanese, French, Chinese, Swedish and Hebrew. His books are full of black humour, post-Soviet reality and elements of surrealism.