First Person

The President Who Played One on TV


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media in Kyiv on Oct. 1, 2019. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Journalist Franklin Foer on the peculiar rise of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine and his role in the Trump impeachment ordeal

The impeachment proceedings for U.S. President Donald Trump, which wind down this week, have also put another president under the spotlight: Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Zelensky was elected last year on a pledge to fight corruption. But the Trump scandal has undermined the relationship between Ukraine and the United States, posing grave challenges for Zelensky’s presidency.

This week on First Person, we hear from Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, whose recent article in the magazine charts the rise of Zelensky as a comedian, entertainment mogul, and finally president of Ukraine.


About First Person:  Each week on First Person, we conduct a narrative-driven conversation with one person whose experience illuminates something timely and important about our world. Our guests tend to be people who have participated directly in events, either as protagonists or eyewitnesses. We get them to tell their story, not just offer analysis. First Person is hosted by FP deputy editor Sarah Wildman. Sarah is an award-winning journalist whose stories have appeared in the New York TimesSlate, Vox and the New Yorker online. She is the author of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind.  See All Episodes


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