KIEV – Former comedy actor Volodymyr Zelensky was sworn in as president of Ukraine at an inauguration ceremony in Kiev on Monday before announcing he was dissolving parliament, asking the government to step down and slating snap elections.
Zelensky, who had starred in a comedy television series in which he played the role of president, was elected into office in a landslide victory where he obtained 73 percent of the votes, beating the incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who only received 24 percent of the votes in the second round of the presidential elections held in Ukraine on April 21.
“I dissolve the eighth legislature of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament),” Zelensky said, although he did not give a date for the election. The poll had initially been due to take place on Oct. 27.
Prior to revealing that he was dissolving parliament, Zelensky had asked lawmakers to approve a series of urgent measures and also said he expected them to fire several persons in authority.
“People must come to power who will serve the public,” he said.
Minutes after, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said he was resigning.
Then, Vasyl Hrytsak, Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine, also tendered his resignation, adding that his whole team was also quitting.
“I fulfill my promise and publicly state that today I am submitting for consideration by the newly elected president of Ukraine a report on my dismissal as SBU chief,” Hrytsak said.
Zelensky, who had no previous political experience, said in his inaugural speech that ending the conflict with Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country would be his top priority.
“Our first task is to achieve a ceasefire in Donbass,” he said, referring to the eastern region controlled by the Russian-backed rebels.
The former television actor’s presidential victory meant that he had ousted Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.
Before entering the building to be inaugurated, Zelensky had mingled with the crowd and taken selfies with them.
At the ceremony, Zelensky was handed some golden symbols of office, including a scepter, which he held aloft in a victory salute.
“We must become Icelanders in football, Israelis in defending our land, Japanese in technology,” he said.