Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky Reuters

Volodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish actor and comedian, was sworn in Monday as president of Ukraine and said his nation must defend their land like Israelis, JTA reported.

“We must become Icelanders in football, Israelis in defending our native land, Japanese in technology,” he was quoted as having said at the swearing-in.

Zelensky won the first round of voting on March 31 and then won the run-off on April 21, defeating incumbent president Petro Poroshenko by a wide margin.

He portrayed a history teacher turned president in his hit television show “Servant of the People” and has been branded by the local media as “the Ukrainian Donald Trump.”

Born in Kryvyi Rih, near Dnipro, to a Jewish family of scientists, Zelensky has not mentioned his Jewish identity in interviews before or during the campaign, which critics say is purposefully vague.

Zelensky announced at Monday’s inauguration that he would dissolve the parliament and call early elections, which had been scheduled for October. In turn, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who is Jewish, announced that he would resign.

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