As opponent misses debates, Ukraine’s president converses with audience

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On Sunday, 14 April, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko was forced to engage in debates with empty space next to him, because his opponent – Volodymyr Zelenksy – did not attend the debates organized at Kyiv Olympic Stadium.

Poroshenko spoke with the audience alone for 45 minutes. He also answered questions from journalists and criticized the non-existent competition, BBC reports.

The two presidential candidates had previously agreed to hold televised debates, but they had failed to agree on the date. Zelensky wanted to hold debates on Friday, 12 April.

Poroshenko, who was ahead of Zelensky in the first stage of elections by only 16%, now hopes to benefit from his opponent’s absence.

‘If he hides again, if he is afraid – we will invite him again. We will keep inviting him every day for every event so that the country can see who they might elect for the next five years,’ said Ukraine’s president.

So far Zelensky has stuck to untraditional political campaigning methods – he does not organize meetings, gives view interviews, and mainly communicates using social media. Aside from his desire for change, his political views are unknown. In spite of that, he received more than 30% of votes in the first stage of presidential elections in Ukraine.

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