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Zelensky on legitimacy dispute: My term is not over yet

by Kateryna Hodunova May 21, 2024 7:00 PM 3 min read
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a statement during a press conference with Poland's Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki at the Prime Minister Chancellery in Warsaw, Poland on April 5, 2023. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a May 20 interview with Reuters he had to continue serving as president due to martial law.

"My five-year term is not over yet," Zelensky told Reuters. "It is continuing due to martial law."

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.

Some of Zelensky's critics 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, saying that the Constitution allows such an extension.

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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…

Zelensky also said that "it is difficult to assess my activities during these five years" and that "it would not be that ethical now."

Zelensky said he is happy to be the president of a nation that has not shunned hazards and risks.

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"They (Ukrainians) were fighting for what was close to their hearts. But it is not over, and this is not the end of the story. I believe we need to be moving forward together till the end, the victorious end," he said.

In March, Zelensky said in an interview with Italian media outlet Rai 1 that the presidential elections had to be postponed, as holding elections under martial law requires changes in Ukraine's legislation.

The president also said the Ukrainian government had to ensure the conditions for 7 million Ukrainians to vote abroad, as well as for the soldiers who are serving on the front line.

In May, Zelensky signed into law the extension of martial law and general mobilization from May 14 to August 11.

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