sábado, abril 13

two years closer to Zelensky

Book. Never, when he slipped into the artist’s dressing room in the spring of 2019, Simon Shuster would have imagined writing a book on Volodymyr Zelensky. Of Russian-Ukrainian origin, magazine journalist Timewho has been wandering for ten years from the east to the west of Ukraine as before in Russia, confesses in the first lines of the 480 pages of The showman (Harper Collins, 21.90 euros) – curiously translated in France as We will vanquish. The work is dedicated to one of the most observed men on the planet. The journalist met Zelensky “behind the scenes” that day, during one of the “shows” of the presidential campaign, since the candidate of the Servant of the People party did not hold meetings. It was the first in a long series of interviews which provide the flavor of this formidable biographical investigation.

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We know the story, not a trivial one: in 2019, to defend their purchasing power and their interests against the oligarchs and the ruling class, Ukrainians choose the candidate they know best: an actor who has held office for years their TV evenings. But, on February 24, 2022, the roadmap changes: the young president must wage war. On his shoulders rests – nothing less – the destiny and survival of his country invaded by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Refusal of criticism and need “to be applauded”

Shuster follows the realization of this kid who grew up in a Russian-speaking town and who suddenly understands that the famous Ukrainian identity is in danger. Embarked in the bunker, knowing as well with the powerful «number two» of Bankova Street, Andriy Yermack, as with the generals-in-chief of successive armies, the reporter explores this dizziness, demonstrating at the same time the great and constant courage of Zelensky, his capacity for work (he was the firm boss of a flourishing production house), but also his refusal of criticism or his need “to be applauded”. His former peacetime chief of staff, Andrii Bohdan, kept the president away from reading social media for this reason.

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The first month of the invasion is described hour by hour. Sleepless nights. The hospitality offered to the Zelensky couple by so many European governments (including Emmanuel Macron). Joe Biden’s advice from the former government in exile in Poland. » I had enough of it (…) It’s very rude…”, he gets annoyed one day in front of the American journalist. Shuster also confesses to Olena Zelenska, Zelensky’s wife of more than twenty years. She only appears to have shown anger when her husband declared himself a candidate. We learn in passing that it was Brigitte Macron, in June 2019, who advised the new Ukrainian first lady on her “status”.

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