Ukraine’s election officials say they have registered 44 presidential contenders — an all-time record for the nation.

The latest polls show that comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays the nation’s president in a popular TV series, has surged ahead of both incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and the ex-prime minister in the run-up to the March 31 vote.

Zelenskiy’s popularity has been driven by both his TV star status and public dismay with current leaders. Ukraine has faced economic troubles after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

A survey released earlier this week had 21.9 percent supporting Zelenskiy, while former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was the choice of 19.2 percent, and Poroshenko came in third with 14.8 percent. The poll of 10,000 had a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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