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Zelensky hits back at Putin's claims about Ukraine's presidential legitimacy

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 8, 2024 12:33 AM 2 min read
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, on April 05, 2023, in Warsaw, Poland. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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During a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims about Ukraine's leader's legitimacy.

His response comes days after Putin falsely claimed that presidential power should be shifted to the speaker of Ukraine's parliament because Zelensky's term has allegedly ended.

"The legitimacy of President Zelensky is recognized only by the people of Ukraine," Zelensky said. "It is the people of Ukraine who elect him, and I am very grateful for their support. Our people are free. This is what we are fighting for."

If martial law had not been imposed, the next presidential election would have been held on March 31, 2024, and Zelensky’s term would have ended on May 20. But Ukraine introduced martial law after Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. The Martial Law Act explicitly bans presidential, parliamentary, and local elections.

Zelensky said that Putin is recognized only by Putin himself. The Russian leader recently won another six-year term in an election that was widely considered to be rigged.

"Putin is elected by Putin. The Russian people are the scenery, and they have only one actor," Ukraine's president added.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaker of Ukraine's parliament, also dismissed Putin's claims about the Zelensky's legitimacy in late May, saying that, according to Ukraine's Constitution, the president fulfills his powers until a newly elected president takes office.

“Therefore, Volodymyr Zelensky remains and will remain Ukraine's president until the end of martial law. All this is in accordance with Ukraine's Constitution and laws,” he said.

Some of Zelensky's critics, including Russian propagandists, claim that the Constitution does not authorize extending his presidential term under martial law.

They argue that he ceased to be a legitimate president on May 20. However, leading constitutional lawyers dispute this claim, arguing that the Constitution allows such an extension.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano voiced their support for Zelensky's legitimacy on May 21.

Zelensky’s term would have expired this month, but he’s staying. Russia wants to use it
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s term in office is supposed to end on May 20, 2024 – but it won’t. As Russia’s war delayed the elections and Zelensky’s term is looking indefinite, Ukraine’s President’s Office is preparing to weather the storm of critics questioning the president’s legitimacy. Offici…

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