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8 Apr, 2024 12:39

Support for ‘authoritarian’ Zelensky falling – German media

The Ukrainian president’s failure to keep his election promises has contributed to public disenchantment, Tagesspiegel claims
Support for ‘authoritarian’ Zelensky falling – German media

Public support for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is declining as he is increasingly perceived as an authoritarian ruler, German newspaper Tagesspiegel has claimed.

In an article on Saturday, Tagesspiegel reported that approval ratings for Zelensky “have recently sunk to 61%,” citing fresh opinion polls by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. The Ukrainian leader had enjoyed the support of more than 80% of citizens in the initial months after the conflict with Russia broke out in 2022, the German outlet noted.

In January, the New York Times reported that Ukrainians were growing weary of government narratives being pushed on TV, accusing them of painting an unrealistic picture of frontline developments.

In early March, Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko openly criticized Zelensky’s decision to fire the country’s top military commander, Valery Zaluzhny, in the previous month. Klitschko has also repeatedly accused the Ukrainian president of authoritarian tendencies.

Tagesspiegel quoted Stefan Meister, an Eastern Europe expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations research institute, as saying that Ukrainian society has become increasingly critical of authoritarian tendencies within Zelensky’s government.

According to Meister, Ukrainians are disillusioned with the president’s failure to fulfill the promises he made on the campaign trail five years ago, including bringing peace to the country and eradicating corruption.

Vladimir Paniotto, the head of the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, told German reporters that public trust in Zelensky’s team as a whole has also declined markedly.

Zelensky’s first five-year term is due to end on May 20, although he has ruled out holding presidential elections, citing martial law. He has nonetheless been busy reshuffling his administration, seeking to remove figures who enjoy any significant public support and replacing them with those “loyal to the president [and] without political ambitions,” Tagesspiegel reported.

The newspaper cited the sacking of Zaluzhny as a prime example, adding that the general remains more popular among Ukrainians than Zelensky.

The Ukrainian president “is trying to shunt possible rivals so that they won’t become politically dangerous for him,” Meister alleged.