Ukrainian comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky has polled a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election.
Concise News reports that with nearly all ballots counted in the run-off vote, Zelensky had taken more than 73% with incumbent Petro Poroshenko trailing far behind on 24%.
“I will never let you down,” Zelensky tells celebrating supporters.
Poroshenko, who admitted defeat after the first exit polls were published, has said he will not be leaving politics.
Political rookie Zelensky, 41, is best known for starring in a satirical television series Servant of the People in which his character accidentally becomes Ukrainian president.
He tells reporters he would “reboot” peace talks with Russian-backed separatists fighting Ukrainian forces and volunteers in the east.
“I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case, we will continue in the direction of the Minsk [peace] talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire,” he says.
Poroshenko, who has been in power since 2014, says the result of the election “leaves us with uncertainty [and] unpredictability”.
“I will leave office but I want to firmly stress – I will not quit politics,” he states.
Billionaire Poroshenko was elected after an uprising overthrew the country’s previous pro-Russian government.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014 after a controversial referendum on self-determination – a move condemned internationally. Since then, Ukrainian forces have been battling Russian-backed separatists in the east.
In a tweet, Poroshenko says “a new inexperienced Ukrainian president… could be quickly returned to Russia’s orbit of influence”.
But Russia’s foreign ministry says Ukrainian voters had expressed their desire for political change. Now, they achieved it.
“The new leadership now must understand and realise the hopes of its electors,” deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin tells the Ria Novosti news agency. “This, of course, applies to domestic as well as foreign affairs.”