Who needs an Oscar? I’m popular in U.S. now, jokes Ukrainian leader


MUNICH (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former comic actor, joked on Saturday that after dreaming of Oscars and popularity in the United States, he had achieved at least the fame part through President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda during the events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2020. Adrianna Bochenek/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

Asked at the Munich Security Conference about Ukraine being dragged into U.S. politics, Zelenskiy reverted to his previous career as a comedic actor when he played a fictional president in a popular TV series.

“I get many questions about impeachment everywhere,” said Zelenskiy, who took office in 2019.

“In my previous profession as a producer, screenwriter and actor, I wanted an Oscar and wanted to be very popular in the United States. Now I am very popular in the USA, but I didn’t want to find (it in) such a way.”

Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, charged with abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival. He was acquitted this month in the Republican-led Senate.

At the heart of the impeachment case was a transcript of a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to work with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

“It’s like Santa Barbara… or no, Dallas,” Zelenskiy said, referring to U.S. TV shows and how questions on impeachment repeatedly come back to him.

The United States has been the most powerful backer of Ukraine in its standoff with Russia over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatist fighters in a simmering conflict in the eastern Donbass region.

Zelenskiy said he wanted to change Ukraine’s global image so that people did not associate the country with corruption. He also thanked the United States for all its help, asked for more and said he was was ready for more time with Trump.

“If it helps Ukraine, I am ready for the next call with Mr Trump.”

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Frances Kerry

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