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从喜剧演员到元首,乌克兰总统泽连斯基的真面目

The Comedian-Turned-President Is Seriously in Over His Head
从喜剧演员到元首,乌克兰总统泽连斯基的真面目

KYIV, Ukraine — It’s not hard to guess what President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine must be craving right now: one normal day.

乌克兰基辅——乌克兰总统弗拉基米尔·泽连斯基现在渴望的东西不难猜到:正常的一天。

The comic-turned-president surely never imagined the job would be quite so intense. First, he got tangled up in the impeachment of Donald Trump. Then he had to deal with the Covid pandemic. And now he’s facing the prospect of a full-scale invasion by Russia.

这位由喜剧演员转行而来的总统肯定没有想到,这份工作竟会如此紧张。首先,他卷入了对唐纳德·特朗普的弹劾。然后,他不得不应对新冠疫情。现在,他又面临着俄罗斯的全面入侵。
 

乌克兰总统弗拉基米尔·泽伦斯基(中)肯定没有想到这份工作会变得如此紧张。

Russia, of course, has been waging a war in eastern Ukraine since 2014. But now the threat is total: Up to 190,000 Russian troops have amassed near Ukraine’s borders and in separatist regions, and an invasion, bringing devastation and disaster, could come at any time. It’s a gravely serious situation. And Mr. Zelensky, a comedian for most of his life, is in over his head.

当然,俄罗斯自2014年以来一直在乌克兰东部发动战争。但现在的威胁是全面的:多达19万俄罗斯军队已经集结在乌克兰边境和分离主义地区附近,随时可能发生带来破坏和灾难的入侵。局面非常严重。一生中大部分时间都在做喜剧演员的泽连斯基如今不知所措。

When Mr. Zelensky took power in Ukraine in 2019, converting his TV fame into a stellar political career, no one knew what to expect. His opponents said he was so inexperienced, he was bound to be a disaster. His supporters thought that he would break away from the old ways and end corruption. His harshest critics claimed that Mr. Zelensky, a Russian-speaking man born in eastern Ukraine, would all but sell the country off to Russia. Others said he was an oligarch puppet.

2019年上台时,他将在电视上赢来的名声转变为辉煌的政治生涯,没人知道会发生什么。他的对手说他太缺乏经验,注定是个灾难。他的支持者认为他会打破旧的方式,结束腐败。他最严厉的批评者称,出生在乌克兰东部、说俄语的泽连斯基几乎肯定会把这个国家出卖给俄罗斯。还有人说他是寡头政治的傀儡。

Yet the truth is more prosaic. Mr. Zelensky, the showman and performer, has been unmasked by reality. And it has revealed him to be dispiritingly mediocre.

然而,事实却更加平淡无奇。泽连斯基,这名演艺人士和表演者,已经被现实揭开了他的面具,暴露出他只是令人沮丧的平庸之辈。

After his nearly three years in office, it’s clear what the problem is: Mr. Zelensky’s tendency to treat everything like a show. Gestures, for him, are more important than consequences. Strategic objectives are sacrificed for short-term benefits. The words he uses don’t matter, as long as they are entertaining. And when the reviews are bad, he stops listening and surrounds himself with fans.

在他担任总统近三年之后,问题很明显了:泽连斯基倾向于把一切都当作一场表演。对他来说,姿态比结果更重要。为了短期利益,战略目标被牺牲了。他使用什么词语并不重要,只要有趣就行。如果风评很差,他就会不再倾听,让自己置身粉丝的包围之中。

He started brightly. Early in his tenure, Mr. Zelensky commanded more power than any of his predecessors had. His fame and anti-establishment allure landed him with a parliamentary majority, a handpicked cabinet and a mandate for reform. At first, it seemed to be working. His government opened up the farmland market and expanded digital services across the country. He began an enormous road construction program, proclaiming that he wanted to be remembered as the president who finally built good roads in Ukraine.

刚开始他的前景一片光明。在任职初期,泽连斯基掌握的权力比任何一位前任都大。他的名声和反体制的魅力使他获得了议会多数席位、一个精心挑选的内阁和改革的授权。一开始,这似乎是有效的。他的政府开放了农田市场,并在全国范围内扩大数字服务。他开始了一项庞大的道路建设计划,宣称他希望人们最终会因为他是在乌克兰修建了优良道路的总统而记住他。

But the successes largely stopped there. Mr. Zelensky’s other major project, a campaign he calls “deoligarchization” that’s aimed at capping the influence of the very wealthy, looks more like a P.R. move than serious policy. Despite his campaign promises, no progress has been made in fighting corruption. According to Transparency International, Ukraine remains the third-most-corrupt country in Europe, after Russia and Azerbaijan. Anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies are either stalling or run by loyalists appointed by the president.

但他的成功基本上止步于此。泽连斯基的另一个重大项目是一项被他称为“去寡头化”的运动,旨在限制非常富有者的影响力,它看起来更像是一项公关举措,而不是严肃的政策。尽管他在竞选时做出了承诺,但在打击腐败方面却没有取得任何进展。根据透明国际的数据,乌克兰仍然是欧洲第三腐败的国家,仅次于俄罗斯和阿塞拜疆。反腐败和执法机构要么停滞不前,要么由总统任命的亲信管理。

Corruption just doesn’t seem to worry Mr. Zelensky much — at least when those implicated are close to him. In March 2020, when his chief of staff’s brother was caught offering government posts for money, Mr. Zelensky did nothing. More recently, a top lawmaker was caught on camera drunkenly offering a bribe to a police officer at the site of a car crash he might have caused. The public was outraged, but Mr. Zelensky mumbled a disapproving comment and moved on. Even the president’s beautiful newly built roads are mired in controversy. The procurement process is thought to be rigged and the prices too high.

泽连斯基似乎并不太担心腐败问题——至少当那些牵涉其中的人与他关系密切时是这样。2020年3月,当泽连斯基幕僚长的兄弟被发现提供政府职位以换取金钱时,泽连斯基什么也没做。最近,一名醉酒的高级议员在一场可能是由他造成的车祸现场向警察行贿,被摄像头拍了下来。公众被激怒了,但泽连斯基只是含含糊糊地说了一句表示不赞成的话,然后就当没事了。就连总统新建的漂亮道路也陷入了争议。人们认为,采购过程存在暗箱操作,价格过高。

Scandals and tolerance for corruption have chipped away at Mr. Zelensky’s popularity. Sixty-two percent of Ukrainians don’t want him to run for re-election, and if an election were held today, he’d garner about 25 percent of the vote — down from the 30 percent he easily won in the first round of the 2019 election. He’d still be likely to win, but the historic 73 percent he scored in the second round feels like a distant memory.

丑闻和对腐败的容忍削弱了泽连斯基的支持率。62%的乌克兰人不希望他竞选连任,如果今天举行选举,他将获得大约25%的选票,低于他在2019年第一轮选举中轻松赢得的30%。他仍然有可能获胜,但他在第二轮选举中历史性的73%的得票已经成为遥远的记忆。

The president’s tense relationship with the press doesn’t help, either. A former actor used to the sound of applause, Mr. Zelensky is notoriously thin-skinned when it comes to criticism and challenging questions. He is visibly irritated by traditional journalists: In November, this fractious approach led to unseemly confrontations at a news conference.

总统与媒体的紧张关系对事态也没有帮助。泽连斯基曾经是演员,习惯听到掌声,在受到批评和质疑时,他是出了名的脸皮薄。他对传统记者明显感到恼火:去年11月,这种难以控制的做法导致了一场新闻发布会上发生不体面的对峙。

It’s not just the media Mr. Zelensky struggles to work with. His first year in charge was chaotic. His hastily assembled team quickly fell apart, and yesterday’s allies turned into some of his harshest critics. There were constant reshuffles. New ministers were given very little time to prove themselves and were kicked out if they didn’t.

泽连斯基不只跟媒体相处不好。他执政的第一年很混乱。他匆忙组建的团队很快分崩离析,昨天的盟友变成了他最严厉的批评者。经常有人事变动。新部长们没有多少时间来证明自己,如果他们做不到就会被踢出局。

The churn eventually stopped, but at a cost. Mr. Zelensky, stung by the fallout, came to largely rely on the loyal rather than the qualified. A former movie producer and longtime friend was made chief of staff, joining other friends and confidants of Mr. Zelensky in wielding outsize power. The security service is overseen by a childhood friend, a former corporate lawyer, and the president’s party in Parliament is run by a loyal former I.T. businessman. The circle around the president has become an echo chamber.

混乱最终停止了,但付出了代价。泽连斯基被这些反目的后果刺痛,之后他在很大程度上依赖于忠诚的人,而不是合格的人。泽连斯基的一位曾是电影制片人的老朋友被任命为幕僚长,与他的其他朋友和知己们一起行使着巨大的权力。安全部门由他的一位曾是企业律师的发小监管,而总统在议会中的政党则由一位忠诚的前信息技术商人掌管。总统周围的圈子变成了回音室。

In the process, Mr. Zelensky has turned into a version of the politician he campaigned against: insular, closed off, surrounded by yes men. In normal circumstances, that would be bad enough. But now, when Ukraine is menaced by Russia, it may be affecting Mr. Zelensky’s judgment.

在这个过程中,泽连斯基变成了他竞选时反对的那种政界人士:孤僻、封闭,周围都是唯唯诺诺的人。在正常情况下,这已经够糟糕的了。但现在,当乌克兰受到俄罗斯的威胁时,这可能会影响泽连斯基的判断。

That’s become ever clearer in recent weeks. As the West pursued megaphone diplomacy to discourage an invasion, Mr. Zelensky tried to downplay the threat. But this understandable effort to project calm and steady skittish markets was undermined by his showy style.

这在最近几周变得越来越清晰。在西方寻求传声筒外交以阻止入侵之际,泽连斯基试图淡化威胁。这种为安抚动荡的市场而做出的努力是可以理解的,但却被他爱炫耀的风格所破坏。

In a tone-deaf address in January, for example, a patronizing Mr. Zelensky effectively mocked Ukrainians for their proneness to panic and laughed off a possible invasion. The very next day, he claimed Russia might invade Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Instead of being comforted, the country was confused. No wonder 53 percent of Ukrainians think Mr. Zelensky won’t be able to defend the country if there is an invasion.

例如,在今年1月一次不合时宜的演讲中,傲慢的泽连斯基实际上是在嘲笑乌克兰人容易恐慌,并对可能的入侵一笑置之。就在第二天,他声称俄罗斯可能会入侵乌克兰第二大城市哈尔科夫。这个国家不但没有得到安慰,反而感到困惑。难怪53%的乌克兰人认为,如果发生入侵,泽连斯基将无法保卫国家。

Yet Mr. Zelensky’s behavior, odd to the point of erratic, obscures a truth: He has no good options. On the one hand, any concession to Russia, particularly over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, would likely bring hundreds of thousands of people to the streets — threatening him with the fate of Viktor Yanukovych, the president overthrown by a revolution in 2014. Any decisive move against Russia, on the other hand, risks giving the Kremlin a pretext for a deadly invasion.

然而,泽连斯基古怪到诡异程度的行为掩盖了这样一个事实:他没有什么好的选择。一方面,对俄罗斯的任何让步,尤其是在乌克兰东部的冲突问题上,都可能会导致数十万人上街游行——这将令他面临2014年被革命推翻的总统维克多·亚努科维奇的命运。另一方面,针对俄罗斯的任何明确行动都可能给克里姆林宫提供发动致命入侵的借口。

The show must go on, of course. The crisis continues. But the president’s performance — strained, awkward, often inappropriate — is hardly helping.

当然,演出必须继续下去。危机仍在延续。但总统的表现——紧张、尴尬、经常不得体——对事态几乎没有帮助。
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