Ukraine's Poroshenko agrees to debate with frontrunner Zelensky

Ukraine's Poroshenko agrees to debate with frontrunner Zelensky

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko agreed Thursday to hold an election debate with frontrunner Volodymyr Zelensky at the country's biggest stadium as he seeks to make up lost ground ahead of a run-off vote, Urdu Point reports.

The 41-year-old actor and comedian Zelensky is favourite to become Ukraine's next president after he dominated a first-round vote on March 31 despite many initially dismissing his candidacy as a joke.

The two will meet in a run-off vote on April 21.

Hours after political novice Zelensky challenged Poroshenko, 53, to hold a debate in a Kiev stadium, the country's largest sports arena, Poroshenko said he was ready to square off with the popular actor.

"(If you want) a stadium, let it be a stadium," Poroshenko said in a video address.

But he also warned that an election debate was no laughing matter and a presidential election would determine the country's fate for decades to come.

"A debate is not a show," Poroshenko said in an apparent jab at Zelensky's lack of political experience.

"A debate is not staged for a stadium spectacle," he added.