New Ukraine president takes office, disbands parliament

Photo: EPA Volodymyr Zelenskiy shows an ancient Bulava (historical symbol of the state power) during his inauguration in the parliament, Kiev, 20 May.

The TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as Ukraine's new president on Monday and his first step was to disband parliament and to set up early elections in two months, news wires reported.

Before he made the announcement, Zelenskiy asked the Supreme Rada to adopt a bill against illegal enrichment and support his motions to fire the country's defence minister, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service and the Prosecutor General. All of them are allies of former President Petro Poroshenko, who lost the presidential election in a landslide to the comedian with no previous political experience.

In a feisty speech after his inauguration, the 41-year-old Zelenskiy told the Rada that his main goal for the presidency is to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists for five years. "I'm ready to lose my popularly and, if necessary, I'm ready to lose my post so that we have peace", he said.

The new president wrapped up his speech at parliament by referring to his career as a comedian. "Throughout all of my life, I tried to do everything to make Ukrainians laugh," he said with a smile. "In the next five years I will do everything so that Ukrainians don't cry." Zelenskiy, who won 73% of the vote at the presidential election last month, played for years the Ukrainian president in a popular TV show.

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