KIEV – The Ukrainian presidential campaign has heated up as the two leading candidates took part in televised drug and alcohol tests on Friday as they prepared for the second round of elections.
Comedian and favorite to win, Volodymyr Zelensky, won with just over 30 percent of the votes at the first ballot held on March 31, but the campaign this week took a turn when he challenged incumbent Petro Poroshenko to take part in the tests.
“I believe that the procedure for conducting tests should be obligatory because the question of absence of alcohol and drug addiction in the presidential candidate is a matter of national security,” Poroshenko said on social media.
There are two important things, Poroshenko told reporters at the Olympic Stadium after handing in urine and blood samples, that the samples were analyzed by independent laboratories and that these were adequately certified.
He added that he did not know where the analysis of the samples would take place.
Shortly after he left the clinic, the hospital said in a statement that the first round of tests was negative.
“No psychoactive substance was found,” said Vladimir Yary, a senior doctor at the Narcological Hospital in Kiev.
The doctor added that the results of the analysis of hair samples would be revealed in the coming days.
Zelinsky, who had challenged Poroshenko to a debate at the Olympic stadium, live-streamed his drug and alcohol tests from a private clinic in the capital.
He told the press upon leaving that the results would be made available within three days.
When asked why he hadn’t met his rival at the stadium for the collection of blood and urine samples, which many in the eastern European country have jokingly branded a “pissing contest,” he answered that “there were no laboratories there.”
The pair are set to face-off at the second presidential ballot on April 21.
Zelinsky was a screenwriter, actor and director, before turning to politics.
In 2015, he played a lead role in a popular television series, “Servant of the People,” where he played a high school teacher that accidentally got elected president after a video of him denouncing the levels of corruption in Ukraine went viral.