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TV comedian disbands Ukrainian parliament after being sworn in as president

Volodymyr Zelenskiy defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a poll last month.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy sings the national anthem during his inauguration ceremony in Kiev (AP)
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy sings the national anthem during his inauguration ceremony in Kiev (AP)

Ukrainian television star Volodymyr Zelenskiy has disbanded the parliament after he was sworn in as the country’s new president.

Disbanding the Supreme Rada was one of the campaign promises of Mr Zelenskiy, who described it as a group of people only interested in self-enrichment.

Before he made the announcement, Mr Zelenskiy asked the parliament to adopt a Bill against illegal enrichment and support his motion to sack the country’s defence minister, the head of the Ukrainian security services and the prosecutor general.

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Mr Zelenskiy greets supporters before his inauguration ceremony in Kiev (AP)

All of them are allies of Petro Poroshenko, who lost the election to a comedian with no previous political experience.

In a feisty speech after his inauguration, Mr Zelenskiy told the Rada that his main goal for the presidency is to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been fighting Russian-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 popularly and, if necessary, I’m ready to lose my post so that we have peace.”

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Mr Zelenskiy had made disbanding parliament a key plank of his election campaign (AP)

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

The 41-year-old garnered 73% of the vote at the presidential election last month in a victory that reflected Ukrainians’ exhaustion with politics-as-usual.

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

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Mr Zelenskiy greeted supporters on a walkabout in a public park (AP)

Mr Zelenskiy 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.”

PA

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