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Connections: Examining the effects of populism on Ukraine's developing democracy


What happens when a television star is elected president? The question, this time, does not refer to Donald Trump, but to Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine. The actor and comedian played Ukraine’s president on a satirical TV show, and despite no political experience, went on to win 73 percent of the vote in the runoff election.

Political analysts say voters who were tired of war and economic hardship rallied behind him to push out the political establishment. Zelensky’s victory is the latest among political outsiders harnessing the power of media to spread a populist message. What does that mean for Ukraine’s developing democracy? Our guests discuss the situation in that country and the power of political rhetoric. In studio:

  • Olena Prokopovych, associate professor of political science at Nazareth College
  • Randy Stone, director of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester
  • Grant Cos, professor of communication with a focus on rhetoric at the Rochester Institute of Technology
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