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Zelensky plagiarizes Poroshenko’s ‘imperial Russia’ line, then says it was planted

Zelensky plagiarizes Poroshenko’s ‘imperial Russia’ line, then says it was planted
New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has already made the gaffe of a lifetime, tweeting a plagiarized part of speech by his predecessor Petro Poroshenko. He is now putting it down to ‘sabotage.’

Zelensky has been in office for barely two weeks before taking off for Brussels to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk. On June June 5, his Twitter account quoted an excerpt of a statement he made during the meeting:

Ukraine in the EU is the death of the Russian imperial project. Moreover, it is a heavy blow to Russian authoritarianism, a path toward democratic change in Russia and in the whole post-Soviet space.

Soon, however, it became clear that the two sentences were entirely lifted from a speech by his predecessor. Poroshenko first posted the remarks on his Twitter account on May 18. He then repeated the line verbatim at his party’s convention on May 31.

Called out on this, Zelensky’s office quickly issued a response, saying that the remarks were prepared by foreign ministry employees who might have been in league with the former president.

“We see it as an act of sabotage by several employees of the foreign ministry, and as a deliberate provocation by Poroshenko’s team,” said the statement, posted on Facebook in Ukrainian. “If it is confirmed that state employees of the Foreign Ministry are privately working with Poroshenko, severe managerial, disciplinary and personnel measures will be taken.”

Whether Zelensky stood by the content of the plagiarized remarks or disavowed them, the statement did not say.

Poroshenko became president of Ukraine in June 2014, following months of unrest after the US-backed coup that ousted his predecessor Viktor Yanukovich. Zelensky, a former comedian with no prior political experience, challenged his re-election bid this year, and won the April runoff in a landslide, with 73 percent of the vote.

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