Was Ukraine’s President on His Country’s Version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’?

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led his country through an invasion by Russian forces in February 2022, highlights from his previous career spread more frequently online.

Specifically, the footage shows Zelensky’s performances on Tantsi z zirkamy — his country’s version of the dance competition show known to American viewers as Dancing With The Stars (which is itself an adaptation of the British program Strictly Come Dancing.)

Zelensky, who was best known at the time as an actor and comedian, won the competition alongside professional dancer Olena Shoptenko:

As his IMDB profile page notes, Zelensky announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2018 while he was starring in the television show Servant of the People, in which his character, Vasiliy Goloborodko, goes from being a schoolteacher to the presidency.

The series also produced a movie of the same name, which was released in 2016:

Zelensky’s own unlikely campaign did draw coverage outside his country; the BBC reported in February 2019 that his campaign “blurring the line between fact and fiction”:

Two months after the BBC’s story, Zelensky won the presidency after gaining 73 percent of the popular vote over incumbent Petro Poroshenko. That same year, then-U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to pressure Zelensky’s government into launching a fraudulent investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of the eventual Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump’s actions, as well as his withdrawal of $400 million in aid that had already been allocated toward Ukraine, led to the first of his two impeachments by the U.S. House of Representatives. Biden would go on to defeat Trump in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

As Zelensky garnered more online attention online, social media users also brought new attention to his voiceover work in the films Paddington and Paddington 2 as the title character:

More than 300 Ukrainian citizens have reportedly been killed since Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022. The act of aggression prompted the U.S. and European Union to implement a wide variety of sanctions against not only Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government but his supporters within the country’s oligarchy and that country’s economic standing.

Early on February 28 2022, the Kviv Independent reported that both countries had sent delegations to Belarus to begin negotating an end to the aggressive Kremlin attacks.