This year’s elections were cancelled by the incumbent FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. © Stefan Rousseau – Pool / Getty Images

Vladimir Zelensky’s five-year term as Ukraine’s president drew to a close on Monday, May 20, raising questions over his legitimacy as head of state.

A presidential election was scheduled to take place in Ukraine on March 31. However, Zelensky announced in December 2023 that no presidential or parliamentary polls would be held as long as martial law remains in force.

Martial law was imposed after the start of the conflict with Russia in February 2022, and has been repeatedly extended by the Ukrainian parliament since then.

At the start of the year Zelensky reiterated that elections are now “untimely” due to the war, and the national mobilization. Last Wednesday, lawmakers prolonged the emergency measures by another three months.

The head of the Russian Security Council, former president Dmitry Medvedev, argued on Monday that by canceling the elections the Ukrainian leader has “spat” on the national constitution, ignored the Constitutional Court, and opted for the “usurpation of supreme power.”

Speaking to TASS news agency, Medvedev suggested that Zelensky fears facing a competition with the former Ukrainian military chief General Valery Zaluzhny and ex-president Pyotr Poroshenko, since they would have “too many trump cards.”

A survey carried out by Ukrainian pollster SOCIS in early March showed that Zelensky would have secured only 23.7% in the first round and no more than 32.5% in the second if he had faced Zaluzhny. The president would have lost to the general, who was dismissed by him in February, the data suggested.

Putin raises issue of Zelensky’s legitimacy Putin raises issue of Zelensky’s legitimacy

Ukraine has legislation which allows parliamentary elections not to be held in wartime, but there is no such rule in relation to the president, former Ukrainian lawmaker Spiridon Klinkaryov told the news outlet Regnum earlier this year.

“Therefore, even during this period, Zelensky is obliged to hold elections,” he insisted. “Instead, he refers to the norm, which states that the powers of the newly elected president come into force after the powers of the current one expire.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday during his state visit to China that the issue of Zelensky’s legitimacy is something that “Ukraine’s own political and legal system” must address, “first of all the Constitutional Court.” He noted that the country’s constitution allows for “different options.”

“But to us this does matter because if it comes to the signing of any documents, surely, we should sign documents on such a momentous matter with the legitimate authorities,” Putin explained. He added that the Kremlin maintained regular contacts with President Zelensky before the hostilities broke out. (RT)