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Comedian wins Ukraine presidential election by landslide

Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won Ukraine’s presidential election by a landslide.

He won an impressive 73 per cent of the vote.

The incumbent president Petro Poroshenko got just 24 per cent.

The EU congratulated Mr Zelenskiy on his election, pledging strong support for his plans to reform the country and fight corruption.

In a joint letter to Mr Zelenskiy on Monday, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief Donald Tusk said the political novice can ‘count on the EU’s continued and steadfast support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity’.

One of the campaign promises of the TV star, who has no prior political experience, was to unify Ukraine.

The country has been hit by corruption, an under-performing economy and deadly conflict in the east fuelled by neighbouring Russia.

Even before results started trickling in, Poroshenko accepted defeat, saying: ‘I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics.’

Mr Zelenskiy, for his part, promised wide changes at the top echelons of government and said his number one task would be securing the release of about 170 Ukrainian military members taken prisoner in the east or in Russia.

Ukraine has been plagued by rampant corruption, a sickly economy and a grinding, five-year war with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country that has killed more than 13,000 people.

Conflict meant millions of people living in the region were unable to vote, Zelenskiy said he would engage Russia to try to end the conflict.