Ukrainian citizens are preparing for their next presidential election. The country's politics are highly controversial and polarizing. Prospects of high-profile politicians serving a prison sentence are not all that surprising.

This year, there have been an enormous amount of candidates in the race. Some of the names are very familiar ones in Ukrainian politics, while others are not. One person, in particular, seems to have made a major impact.

Volodymyr Zelensky appears to be the clear front-runner

Volodymyr Zelensky (sometimes spelled 'Zelenskiy') is not a seasoned political veteran. In fact, he has never run for public office before. He first made his name as a comedian, later an actor.

Beginning in 2015, Zelensky starred on a tv series with the translated title of "Servant of the People". The central premise is that Zelensky's character, a schoolteacher, suddenly become the Ukrainian president.

This follows an anti-corruption rant his character gives that goes viral on the Internet.

An actual political party of the same name was established in 2018. On New Year's Eve, Zelensky officially declared himself as a presidential candidate as a member of the party.

There are a number of risks to a possible Zelensky presidency. One is his obvious lack of experience. Another, as the Winnipeg Free Press reports, is that Zelensky's political positions are vague and largely unknown.

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There is also the fact that his first language is Russian. Both the Ukrainian and Russian languages are widely spoken in the country, though Ukrainian is the official language. During a time of high tension with neighboring Russia, this might not sit well with some citizens.

Zelensky nonetheless has become the favorite to win. As The Washington Times reports, Ukrainian voters have lost patience with a culture of political corruption. So much so that they might be willing to take a chance on Zelensky.

The final results likely won't be known for weeks

In theory, Ukrainian presidential elections are decided in two rounds. If one candidate amasses a clear majority of votes in the first round, they have won the election outright. However, if this doesn't happen, the top two candidates advance against each other in a run-off. While Zelensky' lead in the polls has been large, it hasn't been anywhere close to 50 percent.

Though there are many candidates in the race, polls have shown that only two others have a legitimate chance.

Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko won in the first round in 2014 as an Independent. His previous roles included serving as trade and economic development minister and foreign affairs minister.

Yulia Tymoshenko is something of a lightning rod for controversy. She is a member of the centrist-to-conservative 'Fatherland' party.

A former two-time prime minister, the first woman to hold the office, Poroshenko was at one point her foreign minister. She was later imprisoned after being convicted of abuse of power and embezzlement. However, many believed the charges were politically motivated and she was ultimately released early.

Tymoshenko has run for president twice before, finishing in second place both times. She lost to Poroshenko in 2014. In 2010, she lost in a run-off to former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych's political career was dominated by accusations of ethical and criminal violations. He was eventually removed from the presidency by the parliament has been living in exile in Russia.

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