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Zelensky: A Biography - Serhii Rudenko

Last updated Aug 29, 2023


# Metadata

# Highlights

# Preface Zelensky’s Political Oscar

Zelensky’s presidential image was constructed by those around him. (Location 99)

# Episode 1 Ten Assassination Attempts on President Zelensky

Putin wanted Zelensky dead, if not physically, then at least politically. (Location 133)

For centuries, Ukrainians have fought against Moscow for the right to be free and independent. (Location 144)

# Episode 2 The Campaign for President

The traditional New Year’s performance of Kvartal 95 on the 1 + 1 TV channel is interrupted for congratulations from the president. But instead of Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky appears on the screen. In a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, he comes out from backstage. (Location 155)

# Episode 3 “Let It Be the Stadium Then!”

the actor chose his native element – the stage, the audience, applause, spotlights, and TV cameras. After brief negotiations, Poroshenko was forced to agree to this format. His desire to demonstrate the insignificance of his opponent was so great that he agreed to all his terms. (Location 229)

“I am not your opponent, I am your verdict.” Zelensky’s theatrical and emotional phrase, addressed to Poroshenko, (Location 248)

# Episode 4 Zelensky and Forty-Two Million Presidents

# Episode 5 Devirtualization of Servant of the People

The party was new. Personnel errors were possible. No one was insured against them. The only question was whether the price of these mistakes would eventually be too high for the country and, in addition, for their leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. (Location 337)

Ever since he became president, we have been watching the Servant of the People Party become a political Titanic; only the Russian invasion in 2022 prevented it from sinking to the bottom. (Location 343)

# Episode 6 A Mad Printer for the President

The average age of those appointed to the government on August 29 was between 30 and 40. (Location 367)

Even during the presidential campaign, Zelensky’s opponents spoke about the need for Ukraine’s transition to a parliamentary republic, which would supposedly reduce the role of the head of state to ritual functions. (Location 373)

after a while, the lack of competition in Parliament, the monopolistic position of one political party, the adoption of important decisions outside the walls of Parliament, and their further legalization by deputies all served to deflate the role of the highest legislative body in the Ukrainian government. (Location 381)

It’s what happens when the hype becomes an integral part of the information policy of the presidential party. (Location 397)

# Episode 7 Trump’s Impeachment

# Episode 8 Vice-President Bohdan

Pride and arrogance led Tabachnyk to resign as head of the Office of the President. Bohdan walked the same path. (Location 482)

# Episode 9 The Cosmic Year of 1978

It was under Shcherbytsky that the entire ruling elite would switch to speaking Russian, (Location 570)

# Episode 10 The Irreplaceable Yuliya Mendel

# Episode 11 Look into the Eyes of Putin and …

Putin was no worse an actor than he was. (Location 645)

Apparently, Putin used his traditional negotiation techniques – blackmail, intimidation, and the carrot-and-stick method. (Location 700)

# Episode 12 The Amateur on an Electric Scooter

# Episode 13 A Little Bell for Maslyakov

# Episode 14 Godfather Rodnyansky

# Episode 15 A Scandal in Jurmala

He probably understood that he had already crossed the line when his jokes and projects no longer affected hundreds of thousands, but, rather, tens of millions of Ukrainians. (Location 952)

# Episode 16 The Family of Kvartal 95

Zelensky did not keep his election promise. Indeed, a year after his election, the Poroshenko Family was replaced by the Zelensky Family – or, more precisely, by Kvartal 95 Studio. (Location 968)

# Episode 17 The Kadyrov Ordeal

On February 14, 2022, Kadyrov again publicly addressed Zelensky, urging him to implement the Minsk agreements. (Location 1056)

# Episode 18 Ebonite Rods

As pro-Russian forces were brutally killing Rybak in Horlivka, Zelensky continued to talk about unification of the country and the need to shake up the Ukrainian government as much as possible. (Location 1084)

# Episode 19 Zelensky’s Double

# Episode 20 Zelensky’s Ceremonial General

# Episode 21 Zelensky’s Shefir Brothers

Serhiy said in an interview with the website that his main task under President Zelensky was to maintain the latter’s humanity in politics. (Location 1268)

# Episode 22 Kolomoisky’s Knife

# Episode 23 Poroshenko on His Knees

According to Bezsmertny, the situation in which Poroshenko ended up was caused by his own policies, which consisted of browbeating everyone around him and not allowing them opportunity for growth. (Location 1413)

Haidai says that Poroshenko had his own vision of the voter: He believes that a voter is a shallow person who simply forgets what he is promised from one election to another. And he wants to hear certain lies during the campaign. The elections consist of a kind of competition between liars. And people vote for the most talented and boldest one. (Location 1418)

The more opponents pressed Zelensky, the faster his approval rating grew. And they expected Poroshenko to bring him down in a public debate. I am certain this was Poroshenko’s team’s main strategic mistake. Such mistakes had also been espoused by the staffs of former Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yushchenko, who considered the competitors of their bosses to be incapable of discussion. (Location 1444)

He was answering Poroshenko’s question regarding whether he, if elected president, was ready to kneel before Putin. Zelensky answered that the words “getting down on your knees” were taken out of context. He said: Regarding knees, the words are ripped out from a phrase. Before the war, when our people, our Ukrainians, were already on the Maidan, there were those who had already perished, and I addressed each one of the presidents, and said to Yanukovych: “Be so kind as to step down from the post of presidency, ease your mind.” Then I turned to Putin and said, “I’m ready to go down on my knees, just don’t bring Ukraine to its knees.” Poroshenko shook his head in disbelief at these words. Zelensky continued: “I am now ready to kneel before every mother who did not see her son come back from the front, before every child who did not see their father come home, before every wife who did not see her husband come home. And I invite you to do the same,” and he knelt. Poroshenko also knelt down on one knee, kissing the national flag, which volunteer Tetyana Rychkova, whose husband had died in 2014 near Yenakiyeve, was holding. (Location 1450)

When spring comes – let’s start planting [crooks behind bars] (Location 1460)

# Episode 24 The Zelensky Collective

appointed on March 4 would be able to restore the people’s confidence in his team. It is difficult to say on what such optimism was based. Because Shmygal’s team turned out to be a group of fellow travelers in a single government train (Location 1557)

# Episode 25 Zelensky’s Idol Syvokho

# Episode 26 The Polygraph for “Servants of the People”

# Episode 27 Who Turned Zelensky into an Addict?

I expect that after Putin said “Zelensky is a drug addict,” any discussion of Zelensky’s drug addiction in Ukraine came to a full stop once and for all. (Location 1724)

# Episode 28 Zelensky under Yermak

# Episode 29 Zelensky’s Dream Team

According to political strategist Serhiy Haidai, Zelensky’s main problem was not just his incompetence, but also the fact that he did not recognize this. (Location 1915)

Zelensky, if he was conscious of the level of his incompetence, would have created two possible scenarios. The first: in the initial months of his presidency, to gather all those who know the structure of the state apparatus of Ukraine really well and study for an hour or two every day in a special room. He had to understand very quickly what he had taken on. (Location 1916)

the second Zelensky should have been like this: after studying how the system works, he should have invited specialists from outside the system, maybe even from other countries. (Location 1924)

# Episode 30 Zelensky’s Architect

Olexandr Pikalov, an actor in Kvartal 95 and a longtime friend of Zelensky, maintains that, in order to introduce Zelensky to Olena, he asked her to lend him a video cassette to watch. And Zelensky was the one to return it. (Location 1938)

Better than anyone else, Olena knew her husband well, his strengths and weaknesses. That is why she hoped to the very end that he would refuse to run. (Location 1967)

no matter how modestly the first lady of Ukraine behaves, her husband shapes the attitude of Ukrainians toward her. From his actions, from his statements, from his successes or failures, opinions about Olena Zelensky are formed. (Location 1991)

as Volodymyr Zelensky admitted in an interview with Dmytro Gordon, when his wife is not nearby, he feels disabled. “She doesn’t think she influences me much, but she does. I really trust her,” he says. “I love her as much as I do myself. And when your wife gives you the gift of children, you realize that, damn, you love children even more than yourself, it’s a catastrophe! I’m not ready to lose them for anything,” (Location 1993)

“He is very honest and a workaholic,” is the way Olena describes him, and adds that he cannot relax. “He gives the impression that he is a jolly guy and a joker, but when we go on vacation, it is not until the third day that he cuts loose and safely looks around,” (Location 1998)

# Episode 31 The Magic Number 95

# Episode 32 He Who Burdened Zelensky with the Presidency

# Episode 33 A Gagarin for Zelensky

# Episode 34 A Black Mirror for a Hero

After the incident in Lutsk, Zelensky himself stated that, despite his high rank, he was and remains a human being. “I live with these principles, I have lived with them, I will live with them – to become president and remain a human being. We have a positive result – everyone is alive. We are not fighting for ratings – we are fighting for lives. And for me, this is the most important principle.” (Location 2178)

# Episode 35 Zvirobiy, Fedyna, and a Victim

# Episode 36 Wagnergate: A Story with Many Unknowns

# Episode 37 How the Oligarch Akhmetov Prepared a Coup for Zelensky

The war with Russia pushed both the de-oligarchization movement and the misunderstanding between Zelensky and Akhmetov into the background. (Location 2288)

# Episode 38 The Bucha Massacre

Zelensky is no longer playing the role of president. He is the leader of a nation that, with weapons in its hands, is defending its freedom and independence. A leader who knows the value of every human life. A leader who has gained extensive experience in governing his country under wartime conditions. Not a single European leader has had that experience. And in a world of presidents who stand against aggression – there are only a few. (Location 2305)

these tribulations showed us the real Zelensky. Without any greasepaint. (Location 2361)

Robert Conquest’s book Harvest of Sorrow, or Anne Appelbaum’s Red Famine, or the documentary film Harvest of Despair, (Location 2364)

# Epilogue The President of War

Prior to the war, almost every one of Zelensky’s public addresses was reminiscent of his acting past. Pauses, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures. There was too much theatricality and artificiality in all this. It included professional video shoots of the president, with the presentation and delivery of news carried out according to show business rules. It all looked unnatural and insincere. (Location 2376)

No one knows exactly how and when this war will end. Just as no one knows what Ukraine will be like after the war. But, without a doubt, Ukrainians will play a significant role both in Europe and in the world. (Location 2391)