Ukrainian President Arrives For Debate In Kyiv, Challenger Doesn’t
Incumbent Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelenskiy will face off in Ukraine's presidential runoff on April 21
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrived at Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv for a presidential election debate although his challenger, Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not.
Zelenskiy said he will only agree to spar with Poroshenko at the stadium five days later.
Poroshenko and Zelenskiy will face off in Ukraine’s presidential runoff on April 21. Zelenskiy won the first round earlier this month. At the moment, opinion polls put him in front of Poroshenko.
Zelenskiy insists a debate at Olympiyskiy Stadium take place on April 19 while Poroshenko wanted it to be held today, as Ukrainian law requires that a debate at the public television station through the public broadcaster be held on April 19.
Nevertheless, Poroshenko has also said he would be willing to debate at Olympiskiy Stadium on April 19, so long as it does not conflict with the time when the public debate is scheduled.
Poroshenko walked into the stadium accompanied by his wife and children.
“It was not me who proposed the site of the event, it was a certain man,” Poroshenko told the audience, standing next to an empty lectern bearing Zelenskiy’s name.
He then addressed Zelenskiy, saying, “I know you’re watching,” and added, ironically, that Zelenskiy must be having a rest after his trip to Paris where he met French President Emmanuel Macron.
Poroshenko also called on Zelenskiy to show up at the stadium, saying that otherwise, he would invite him to a televised debate every day.
Asked by a reporter if he would cooperate with Zelenskiy if the latter won the presidency, Poroshenko replied, “If, God forbid, he were to be elected, that would still be the choice of the Ukrainian people and I would respect that choice.”
The stadium has confirmed it also received a request to hold a debate on April 19, leaving open the possibility that Zelenskiy will show up on his preferred date.