Right joker: Kiev comedian roasted online for MH17, Ukraine neo-Nazism gags
Most of the anger on social media was directed at Vladimir
Zelensky’s joke regarding the Malaysian Airlines plane crash, but
other parts of his show also provoked controversial responses.
The comedian, who has starred in a number of popular Russian
romcoms, began his standup routine on the local TV program
‘Vecherniy Kiev’ with the words “Glory to
Ukraine” – a nationalist greeting now often used as a show
The premise of the comedian’s set was reading out a letter addressed to his relatives in Russia, which ridiculed what Ukrainians claim are mass media-imposed stereotypes.
The comic began with jokes about ‘Banderas’, referring
to Stepan Bandera’s nationalist movement, which collaborated with
Nazi Germany at the start of World War II and was involved in the
ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews and Russians. Ukrainian
nationalists are often called Banderas by their opponents.
Zelensky joked that “things will be even better now” since he joined the ranks of Banderas with many others, as there is “no other way to make a career in Ukraine.”
“I have a small salary, but it is not important, as we are now allowed to take away money and property from the Russians. Before we could do the same to the Jews,” he sarcastically said.
At one point of the sketch, the comedian also asked his relatives to send out a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf (incidentally banned in Russia), adding that all the copies of the book “have sold out” in Ukraine. He even imitated a Nazi salute as part of the show.
The letter also invited them to come and visit Ukraine, but with
a warning not to use planes. “This is dangerous!” he
joked, seamlessly forgetting that 298 people were killed as MH17
went down over Ukraine. The joke was followed by the audience
He added that the safest way to travel is by means of white Kamaz trucks, which have a “regular schedule and no delays” – referring to vehicles used for transporting Russian humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky then poked fun at the US role in the Ukrainian conflict.
“Now, for example, I am learning English to forget Russian. American mercenaries are helping me out. They are here on every corner. Why am I telling you this? You already know everything,” he jested.
The US theme was taken even further: “Today our president – the most, most important one – Barack Obama promised that we will soon become part of NATO, of course with the rights of an American henchman.”
To ridicule the gravity of the Ukrainian crisis the comic said he is going “to dig out a bunker.”
The comedian has been in trouble before, forced to apologize for offending the Muslim population in a previous routine that made fun of the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Meanwhile, on the ground in eastern Ukraine a shaky truce has been established between self-defense forces and the Kiev government, with occasional shelling still occurring.
The latest report from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine from Tuesday described seven people being killed and 15 other injured in heavy shelling by a ‘Grad’ multiple rocket-launcher system, northeast of Mariupol. Shelling was also reported northeast of Donetsk.