Zelensky takes office as Ukraine's new president

Volodymyr Zelensky

Zelensky takes office as Ukraine's new president

Crowds gathered outside Ukraine's parliament building in Kiev on May 20 as Volodymyr Zelensky was sworn in as president.

Meanwhile, he has learned his first lesson as president-elect in grownup politics: his inauguration was scheduled for Monday at 10 AM local time, in parliament, but the celebration comes against a background of new parliamentary instability, after Ukraine's coalition government collapsed on May 17, when the People's Front party, the second largest in parliament, withdrew from the coalition.

Experts say that Zelenskiy, who won the presidency with over 70 percent of the vote, is calling early elections in order to ride his campaign's wave of momentum and ensure that his new political party obtains seats in parliament.

Mr. Zelensky announced his first priority was ending the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the industrial east that has claimed over 13,000 lives.

During his speech at the inauguration ceremony on Monday, Zelensky said he would dissolve Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament).

The eastern Donbass region which has been gripped by unrest since the conflict began in 2014.

Ukraine-Israeli sources cited Jerusalem's reluctance to irk Russian Federation as the reason for decision to skip the ceremony, but warned that such a step could backfire and cause harm to relations with the new Ukrainian regime.Observers say the Ukrainians expected a high-level delegation from Israel to attend.

Also under question is whether Zelensky will be able to govern without a parliamentary majority. Even setting a date for his inauguration took weeks of negotiations with lawmakers.

Two of the three officials he has asked to leave, Defense Minister Stepan Polt orak and SBU chief Vasyl Grytsak, promptly handed in their resignations.

He broke with tradition and headed to the swearing-in ceremony on foot, high-fiving and taking selfies with supporters along the way.

Closing his speech, Zelenskiy referred to his previous career as a comedian.

Addressing the people of Ukraine, Zelenskiy finished his inaugural speech by saying, "All my life I tried to do all I could so that Ukrainians laughed".

"To all Ukrainians, no matter where you are, I promise that I will never let you down", Zelensky had said after the results were announced.

The parliament's speaker Andriy Parubiy closed the inauguration ceremony with words: 'Thanks everyone, this has been fun'.

He starred as a history teacher who was unexpectedly elected president after his expletive-laden rant about corruption went viral.

Mr Poroshenko led Ukraine for five years, grappling with the fallout from Russia's 2014 Crimea annexation and the war in the east.

Although he launched some reforms, he was criticised for failing to improve living standards or effectively fight corruption. "Do it, and you will deserve medals", Zelensky said after being sworn in.

Kiev and its allies accuse Moscow of militarily supporting the separatists, which it denies.

The new president will immediately have to deal with a number of sensitive global issues, giving him a foretaste of the challenges lying ahead.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, center, speaks during a meeting with lawmakers in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

The political situation prompted one pro-Western lawmaker, Serguiy Vysotsky, to warn Zelensky that the inauguration "isn't the end of your adventures - it's just the beginning".

Latest News