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  • Judges attend a court hearing on appeal to annul comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy's registration as presidential candidate in upcoming election in Kiev

    Judges attend a court hearing on appeal to annul comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy's registration as presidential candidate in upcoming election in Kiev | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 April 2019
Opinion

The plaintiff stated that the defendant had "bought votes" and that his candidacy, authorized by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), should be annulled.

A Ukrainian lawyer tried unsuccessfully Saturday to annul the candidacy of comedian Vladimir Zelenskiy, called the "Ukrainian Donald Trump," for the presidential elections, a few hours after the second round of voting in which the actor became the favorite against current President Petro Poroshenko.

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The sixth administrative appeals court of Kiev reviewed the lawyer, Andrei Jilko’s complaint at a hearing that began at 10:00 p.m local time.

In the lawsuit, Jilko, an election observer for the Ukrainian Shareholders Association alleged that Zelenskiy violated electoral law by posting a notice on his official Facebook campaign page offering free tickets to the debate held Friday between the two presidential candidates before 22,000 spectators at the Kiev’s Olympic stadium.

The lawyer showed screenshots of the Zelenskiy campaign website in which people could register to get the free tickets.

The plaintiff stated that the defendant had "bought votes" and that his candidacy, authorized by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), should be annulled.

At around 1:00 a.m. local time the three judges on the court dismissed the claim, ruling that Zelenski's appeals for his supporters to obtain tickets can not be qualified as vote buying.

The ads on the campaign page about the tickets were also not subject to the restrictions of the electoral law, argued the magistrates.

The tickets for the electoral debate were evenly divided between the Zelinski and the Poroshenko campaigns, who organized shuttles getting their supporters to the Olympic stadium.

Zelenski's chief lawyer, Vadim Galaichuk, told Facebook that Jilko was "known for having filed similar, strange claims" before, such as when he accused the comedian of an "illegal campaign" move for meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

During the hearing, Zelenskiy's defense argued that the lawsuit lacked a legal basis and sought only to create "media attention."

The representative of the CEC also requested that the claim be dismissed by the court.

According to the electoral law, the CEC can only cancel a candidacy up to 30 days before the election day and only in certain cases.

Opinion polls say that Zelenski could win the elections Sunday with between 60% and 70% of the votes.

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