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Leader of southern Ukraine with a smug side

#Leader #southern #Ukraine #smug #side

Vitaliy Kim has a wacky sense of humor. Perhaps it is necessary: ​​he is the governor of the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv, where rumors have it that another duel with Russian troops is looming.

Night rockets hit the provincial capital. Water lines were cut and Kim’s own office was destroyed in a rocket attack on the building in the first weeks of the war.

When the block was bombed in March and Kim announced grim news on social media, he quipped that he only managed to count among the 37 killed because he overslept.

His selfie videos – of him rejoicing in a confiscated Russian vehicle or giggling with delight at jokes made at Moscow’s expense – have made him a cult figure in the months since.

Through it all, there’s an undeniable feeling that the round-faced, 41-year-old is trying to shed light on the grim crisis.

“There are different ways of dealing with a situation,” he told AFP this week with a hint of a grin. “It’s my style, it doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Nevertheless, he emphasizes: “I enjoy every job I do.”

– Weird Relief –

Kim’s region is a strip of sunny southern Ukraine that hugs the Black Sea coast, where the war with Russia is shifting as it nears its seventh month.

Like many officials, he has been mimicking President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s fashions since the invasion began in late February, appearing in public appearances in military jerseys.

On Wednesday, he spoke to reporters wearing camouflage pants and a black t-shirt that featured the silhouette of the alien “Predator” from the 1987 sci-fi/horror film of the same name, with the inappropriate caption “Department Patrol Police.”

In the shadow of the city building where his office once stood – and where the walls are still stained with bloody handprints – he explains the philosophy of comic leadership he developed at the beginning of the war.

“I made the decision to make our enemy look stupid and dumb,” he said. “A lot of our people needed that to not be afraid.”

Those beginnings are over now and people just like his humorous style now. They “mostly don’t need it anymore” like they used to, he said.

His sense of humor seems consistent with the broader “wink and nudge” comedic streak Ukraine has adopted to deal with months of violence, with no end in sight.

When a Russian airfield in Crimea was the scene of explosions last week, Ukrainian officials suspected of planning a daring raid reacted with timid glee without officially acknowledging responsibility.

Kim also believes he coined the term “orcs” to jokingly refer to Russian soldiers.

The word – now used nationwide among soldiers – originated in fantasy novels and video games and alludes to goblin-like evil creatures.

“They were really like her because they were crazy,” he explained. “Decades of propaganda in Russia have changed their thinking.”

“Even they didn’t understand what they were doing.”

– Tactician in disguise –

But Kim — a child of teacher parents — is no full-time fool.

When questioned about the alleged Ukrainian counter-offensive being deployed in his region, he will stone.

He only says that there is a “good situation” on the front line. Planning an offensive is “not that easy”. And Ukraine is engaged in “active defense”.

“Counteroffensive is a very broad term,” he says. “It works, that’s all.”

Despite his exuberant public appearance, he reveals nothing.

There’s a sense that behind the man who’s quick to joke, there’s another making contingencies for every deadly serious new turn the unfolding war with Russia might take.

He said some people misinterpreted his lighter side as a sign of weakness.

“That’s not true, because I can smile and I can destroy something.”

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#Leader #southern #Ukraine #smug #side

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