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Volodymyr Zelensky said he “wanted to get sick with the coronavirus” to show people how “scary” having the disease really is. More than 800 Ukrainians have died after contracting COVID-19 and the number of infected has surpassed 28,300. The 42-year-old told Ukrainian Pravda, an online news site: “I wanted to get sick with the coronavirus.
“Why? To make it easier for people.”
Explaining how the bizarre plan came about, Mr Zelensky said he put the suggestion out there during a meeting with his close advisers.
He told them: “Come on, I’ll get sick … I’ll sleep it off, and live through it normally so that people understand that it’s scary, to an extent.
“You can get sick, you feel unwell, I’ll go through it myself and show them … so they understand, so there’s no depression, that it’s not the plague.”
He revealed that the plan was abandoned after a member of his team raised concerns about how him being sick would be viewed by the public.
He added: “The only thing that stopped me is that someone said that people might say it’s a PR stunt.”
Mr Zelensky was elected leader of Ukraine in May 2019 and inherited a host of problems including the war in Donbass.
Just months into the job, the former comedian was thrust into the global spotlight during the campaign to impeach US President Donald Trump.
The historic impeachment which took place in December centred around phone calls between Mr Zelensky and Mr Trump.
The US President was accused of coercing Kiev into conducting a corruption investigation into Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The Senate, run by the president’s fellow Republicans, voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power.
Mr Trump was also acquitted of charges of obstruction of Congress by 53-47.
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In an op-ed in the New York Times in May, Mr Zelensky opened up about the intense pressures he came under during his first year as president.
He said: “The impeachment story was not comfortable for me.
“It took American and international attention away from the issues that mattered most to Ukraine and turned our country into a story about President Trump.”
But he joked that one positive to come out of the trial was that “many more Americans and Western Europeans can now find Ukraine on the map!”
Mr Zelensky last year took over from former president Petro Poroshenko.
On Wednesday Ukraine’s state investigation bureau said it had suspected Mr Poroshenko of issuing an illegal decree in 2018 related to his dealings with the foreign intelligence service.
Mr Poroshenko, who became a lawmaker after losing the presidential election last year, said the case related to the appointment of a deputy head of the foreign intelligence service and described the accusation as politically motivated.
Ukrainian law enforcement bodies are investigating more than 10 different cases in which they suspect Poroshenko is involved.
The former leader denies all the accusations, saying they are part of a political campaign against him.
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