Poroshenko-Zelensky presidential election debate begins at Kiev’s Olympic stadium

# 21:14
19 April 2019

Ukrainian presidential candidates Vladimir Zelensky and Pyotr Poroshenko have begun election debates at Kiev’s Olympic stadium, ONA reports citing TASS.

An audience of up to 60,000 can watch the event live. Ten thousand police maintain security. The debate will last for sixty minutes.

Incumbent Ukrainian President and Zelensky have shaken hands before the start of the debates at the Olympic Stadium. Both presidential candidates are presenting their speeches on the same stage.

The handshake was met by loud cheers from the stadium's spectators.

Zelensky has stated that he is running for president in order to break the system established by incumbent president Pyotr Poroshenko. "I’m just a man, a simple man, who came to break this system. Pyotr Alekseevich (addressing Poroshenko - TASS), I am the result of your mistakes and promises," Zelensky said in his introductory statement.

Zelensky added that he voted for Poroshenko in the 2014 election.

"The thing is, I supported Poroshenko, but I was wrong. We were wrong. I’ll tell you honestly, how could we have known that his "new life" would mean our "survival", that his "we will end the war in two weeks" would become our Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, and the "revolution of dignity" would be used by the undeserving," the candidate said.

Around 22,000 people are currently at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, where the presidential debates are being held.

The runoff of Ukraine’s presidential elections is scheduled for April 21 and will feature head of the Servant of the People party Vladimir Zelensky going up against incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko. The first round took place on March 31 and saw Zelensky receiving 30.24% of the votes, almost twice as much as Poroshenko, who got 15.95%