Jewish TV star Volodymyr Zelensky sworn in as Ukraine’s president

Just a month after winning an unlikely victory, the former comedian and new Ukrainian president proclaims at his inauguration, “I’m ready to lose my popularity and, if necessary, I’m ready to lose my post so that we have peace.” 

By The Associated Press , and Israel Hayom Staff


Jewish-born TV star Volodymyr Zelensky was sworn in as Ukraine’s new president on Monday, promising to stop the war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists.

In one of his first decisions, he announced dissolved parliament and called new parliamentary elections, saying the body was only interested in self-enrichment.

Then TV star Volodymyr Zelensky (R), performs at the Kvartal 95 in 2018. – Photo: Wikimedia,Vadim Chuprina

Even before he disbanded the Supreme Rada, which had been one of his campaign promises, the 41-year-old Zelensky had upended the traditions of Ukrainian politics.

He ditched the idea of a traditional motorcade to his inauguration, walking to the parliament through a park packed with people. Flanked by four bodyguards, he was giving high-fives to some spectators and even stopped to take a selfie with one of them.

Before he made the announcement, Zelensky asked the Supreme Rada to adopt a bill against illegal enrichment and support his motions to fire the country’s defense 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, Zelensky 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 do everything so that our heroes don’t die there,” he said. “I’m ready to lose my popularity and, if necessary, I’m ready to lose my post so that we have peace.”

Zelensky garnered 73% of the vote at the presidential election last month in a victory that reflected Ukrainians’ exhaustion with politics-as-usual. For years, he has played the Ukrainian president in a popular television show.

Zelensky, who is of Jewish descent, refused to elaborate on his religion during the campaign, saying it was a personal matter. He also refused to say whether he still considered himself Jewish.

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.”


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