June 18, 2024

Zelensky claims he has to continue serving as president.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a legitimate military target as the leader of a “hostile political regime.”

Speaking to Russian state media outlet TASS, Medvedev, current head of the Security Council of Russia, dismissed the importance of Zelensky’s legitimacy as president to Moscow.

“For Russia, the final loss of legitimacy by the pseudo-president of the former Ukraine will not change anything,” said Medvedev, adding that leaders of warring countries are “always considered” legitimate military targets.

Medvedev labeled Zelensky a “war criminal” who should be captured and brought to justice or “liquidated as a terrorist” for his actions against Russians and Ukrainians. Zelensky was placed on the Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted list earlier this month, though no criminal proceedings details have been disclosed.

Zelensky’s presidential term officially ended on May 20, with elections originally set for March postponed due to martial law, which has been extended multiple times since the conflict with Russia began in February 2022. In December 2023, Zelensky announced that no elections would occur while martial law was in effect. In early May, Ukrainian lawmakers extended martial law for another three months.

(Related: Russia declares Ukraine an “illegal entity,” puts Zelensky on ARREST list.)

Medvedev accused Zelensky of “effectively seizing power” after elections were annulled, claiming Zelensky ignored the Ukrainian constitution and the Constitutional Court of Ukraine by usurping supreme power from the government.

He also criticized Zelensky for using a vague declaration from the Verkhovna Rada – the Ukrainian parliament – to justify the abolition of presidential elections during wartime.

Zelensky claims he has to continue serving as president

In a May 20 interview with ReutersZelensky explained that he must continue serving as president due to martial law.

“My five-year term is not over yet,” Zelensky stated. “It is continuing due to martial law.”

Without the imposition of martial law, the next presidential election would have been scheduled for March 31, 2024, with Zelensky’s term concluding on May 20. However, martial law was declared after Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. Zelensky remarked that “it is difficult to assess my activities during these five years” and added that evaluating his term “would not be that ethical now.”

Despite facing criticism, Zelensky expressed pride in leading a nation that has bravely confronted hazards and risks.

Some critics argue that the Constitution does not permit extending his presidential term under martial law, claiming his legitimacy ended on May 20. However, leading constitutional lawyers dispute this, asserting that the Constitution allows for such an extension.

“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,” Zelensky said.

In a March interview with Italian media outlet Rai 1, Zelensky emphasized the necessity of postponing the presidential elections, noting that conducting elections under martial law requires legislative changes. He also highlighted the need to ensure voting conditions for seven million Ukrainians abroad and soldiers on the front line.

In May, Zelensky signed a law extending martial law and general mobilization from May 14 to August 11.

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