Zelenskiy: Ordinary Ukrainians resisting Russia’s invasion are my role models

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FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy walks on a street during a visit to the southern city of Mykolaiv, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 18, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday his role models were ordinary Ukrainians who resisted invading Russian forces and he compared Russia to the fictional arch-villain Lord Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter’ books.

Zelenskiy, dressed in a military uniform, was answering questions via videolink from students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

Asked by one student who his role models were, Zelenskiy said: “The people of Ukraine… and there are very many of them.”

“An ordinary Ukrainian farmer who could take his tractor and close off a road to Russian tanks, an ordinary woman who would go out and stop armoured vehicles with her bare hands… Those are the people I look up to,” he said via an interpreter.

The student noted that Zelenskiy has been compared by his supporters to British World War Two leader Winston Churchill and to Harry Potter, the fictional boy wizard who finally defeats his archenemy Lord Voldemort.

“Thank you for these kind of comparisons. Harry Potter is better than Voldemort, and we know who is Voldemort in this war, and who is Harry Potter, so we know how the war will end,” Zelenskiy said, smiling.

Zelenskiy, 44, a former comedian who once played a fictional president in a popular TV series before entering politics, has drawn international praise for refusing to leave Ukraine during the war and for rallying Ukrainians to resist the invasion.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm the country and rid it of “fascists”. Ukraine and its Western backers say this is a false pretext for waging an unprovoked war of aggression.