Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday disputed claims that Ukraine is a corrupt country, saying “from now, it’s not true,” and that “we want to change this image,” while adding that he’s ready for another phone call with President Donald Trump.
Throughout the impeachment inquiry into Trump, there were numerous references to corruption in Ukraine. But in a new interview, Zelensky said Kyiv is fighting against corruption every day.
“When I had a meeting with President Trump and he said that in previous years (Ukraine) was such a corrupt country, I told him very honestly and I was very open with him. I told him that we fight with corruption. We fight each day,” Zelensky told CNN on Saturday.
He added, “From now, it’s not true. We want to change this image.”
Zelensky and Trump spoke during a phone call on July 25, where Trump asked him to “look into” allegations surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings. The founder of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, is under investigation for corruption in Ukraine. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
Throughout the inquiry, both Trump and Zelensky have said there was no pressure from the White House to launch investigations. Both also denied there was any quid pro quo, as was alleged by House Democrats.
Following the inquiry and impeachment trial, Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine and the United States have a “very good relationship” and thanked Trump for his support.
“I want to thank the president, and the USA, and ordinary American people for supporting Ukraine, especially now when we have war. Thank you for your help… We feel it, we feel it with our hearts, with our body,” Zelensky said.
Earlier this month, the Senate acquitted Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress impeachment articles. House Democrats for months claimed that the president violated his oath of office by allegedly withholding aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations and for Zelensky to meet Trump at the White House.
The July 25 phone call was mentioned on a near-daily basis as Trump urged Americans on Twitter to “read the transcripts” of the call, which he had declassified shorty after the allegations first emerged.
Zelensky joked with CNN that he wanted to be popular in the United States.
He said, “In my previous profession, when I was a producer, scriptwriter and actor, I wanted to get an Oscar, I wanted to be popular in the USA… Now I am very popular in the USA. If this way will help Ukraine, I am ready for the next call with Mr. Trump.”