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Ukrainian presidential candidates Poroshenko, Zelensky finish debates

April 19, 21:57 UTC+3 KIEV

In his final word, Poroshenko stated that he would accept the results of the April 21 election

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© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

KIEV, April 19. /TASS/. Ukrainian presidential candidates Pyotr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky have finished the debates at the Olympic Stadium.

In his final word, Poroshenko stated that he would accept the results of the April 21 election. "On April 22, life goes on, and on April 22, we must unite to protect the country together. The most important thing is not to lose it [the country]," he said.

Poroshenko stressed the need to recover control over Crimea and Donbass and to avoid oligarchs coming into power.

For his part, Zelensky has listed his campaign promises: that all citizens must be equal before the law, and that the immunity of judges and members of parliament must be lifted. He also promised to introduce a law on the president’s impeachment, to raise the salaries of public sector workers and to improve the country’s infrastructure. "As for the roads, I have nothing to say because there aren’t any," Zelensky quipped at the end of his speech.

Later, both candidates have gone down on their knees during the debates at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, honoring those who lost their loved ones during the war in Donbass.

During the discussion, the incumbent president accused Zelensky of being ready to "crawl to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on his knees" to save the country. "We should not be crawling to Putin on our knees to save the country, we have to build our army, build our state and the basics of statehood, protect our language and protect Ukraine and our nation," Poroshenko said.

In response to Poroshenko’s claim, Zelensky explained that his quote was taken out of context. "Before the war, during the Maidan protests, when people were dying, I addressed the people and [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich, saying: "Please leave the president’s post." I addressed Putin and said: I am ready to kneel before you, just don’t put Ukraine on her knees."

"And now, I am ready to kneel before every mother whose son had not come home from war," he stressed, going down on his knees before the stadium’s audience and calling Poroshenko to follow suit. Poroshenko has gone down on one knee turning his back to the public and facing the Ukrainian flag.

"You see, it’s not hard to be human," Zelensky said.

The ceremony ended with both candidates singing the Ukrainian national anthem along with the spectators.

Around 22,000 people attended the presidential debates held at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Friday evening.

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%.

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