Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin

March 16, 2022

A man in olive green fleece sweater stands at podium with blue and yellow flag to side and a wall behind him that says Office of the President of Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky as seen in PBS NewsHour segment on March 2, 2022.

In our ongoing effort to provide news related to the war in Ukraine, THIRTEEN will air a new, half-hour profile on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin will be broadcast Friday, March 18, 10:30-11 p.m.. Stream the full film now through April 15, 2022.

This documentary captures the Russian invasion of Ukraine but centers on the story of the man who is making headlines for his courageous leadership: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It charts the rise of the comedian, actor and entertainer who became the unlikely but landslide winner of the Ukrainian election for President in 2019 and the improbable wartime leader in 2022. For some, he was the political lightweight, whose approval ratings had slipped in the months before the Russian invasion and was not trusted to deal with the rising tensions and Vladimir Putin.

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But Zelenskyy’s uncompromising stance and resolve against Russia has transformed his image and popularity, both at home and abroad. On the morning of Wednesday, March 16, he asked the U.S. Congress for more assistance in the war against Russia. The Associated Press reported that his livestreamed appearance “is part of his very public strategy, in which he has invoked Winston Churchill, Hamlet and the power of world opinion in his fight to stop Russia.”

The film explores the man behind the series of game-changing social media and TV appearances that have encapsulated the defiant response of the Ukraine nation. What motivates Zelenskyy? How did he transform from joker to crisis leader and what is the next chapter of his story?

For a brief introduction to Zelenskyy’s history as a television actor and sudden transformation into a politician and leader of a nation at war with Russia, see John Yang’s PBS NewsHour report, Zylenskyy’s Improbable Rise from Comedian to President, from March 3, 2022.

News on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the refugee crisis of displaced Ukrainians will continue on Amanpour and Company, PBS NewsHour, and our other news and public affairs programs.

This special broadcast replaces the previously scheduled Beyond the Canvas: Women of Wonder.