Ukrainian President Zelenskiy Sworn In, Says Dissolving Parliament

The Jewish TV star says his first task is to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, but Russia must return Ukrainian territory and POWs; Putin spokesman says 'no plans' to congratulate Zelenskiy

New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds the Ukrainian symbols of power during his inauguration ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, May 20, 2019.
Efrem Lukatsky,AP

After being sworn in, Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday announced he was dissolving parliament.

He also said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine but added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war.

Zelenskiy, a television star, was sworn inas Ukraine's next president after he beat the incumbent at the polls last month.

The ceremony was held at Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on Monday morning.

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

Zelenskiy, a popular comedian with no political experience, overwhelmingly won the presidential election against incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a victory that reflected Ukrainians' exhaustion with politics-as-usual.

Rumors about Zelenskiy's potential bid first surfaced when he played the Ukrainian president in a television show several years earlier.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked if Vladimir Putin will congratulate Zelenskiy on his inauguration, said the Russian president had no such plans. 

He said that Putin would congratulate his newly-elected counterpart if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia.