Putin: ‘Zelensky No Longer Legitimate Leader of Ukraine’

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Russia‘s President Vladimir Putin claimed that Volodymyr Zelensky is no longer Ukraine’s head of state.

Putin’s remarks came after Zelensky’s official term expired last week.

During a press conference following a two-day official visit to Uzbekistan, the Russian leader suggested that a deep legal analysis of Zelensky’s status should be carried out, adding no article in Ukraine‘s constitution says anything about extending his powers as president.

However, Zelensky has argued that his mandate as Ukraine’s leader extended due to the country being under martial law and that no presidential elections can be held during wartime.

But Putin argued that the Ukrainian constitution does not mention suspending presidential elections; it only prohibits holding parliamentary polls.

This means that only the term of the Verkhovna Rada, the national legislature, can be extended under such circumstances.

Yahoo reports: Ukrainian lawyers say the extension of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s powers is covered by other laws.

Ukraine’s Western allies, including Germany, also continue to recognize Zelensky as the country’s legitimate president.

Without the imposition of martial law, Zelensky’s first term of office would have ended on May 20.

But due to the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion and with large parts of the country occupied by Russian forces, Ukraine is not planning elections.

In recent weeks, the Russian leadership has been trying to call Zelensky’s legitimacy into question by pointing to allegedly contradictory laws in Ukraine.

Putin, who made the latest comments on Tuesday in Tashkent at the close of his state visit to Uzbekistan, has spent recent days focusing on the issue.

On a recent visit to Beijing, he said that expert opinion was needed to clarify whether Zelensky was still legally in office. Then, during a trip to Belarus, he insisted that the Ukrainian president was no longer legitimate.

Putin’s statements are seen as an attempt to undermine the Ukrainian leader’s credibility abroad, ahead of a peace summit in Switzerland on June 15-16.

Some of Zelensky’s Ukrainian opponents have also questioned the legitimacy of his remaining in power.

Zelensky has responded by accusing Putin of not being in power legitimately himself, after the Russian leader had the constitution rewritten three years ago in order to remain in office.

Kiev called on the West to no longer recognize Putin following the Russian presidential election in March, which was overshadowed by allegations of manipulation.

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