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Friday, May 24, 2024

West worried Zelensky ‘getting out of control’ – Lavrov

Pushing Kiev to hold a presidential election is intended to keep the ‘unhinged’ leader in check, the Russian foreign minister says

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is becoming increasingly unhinged as he clings to power, and his Western backers are looking for ways to keep him in check, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Thursday. Calls for Ukraine to hold a presidential election this year are part of that effort, he believes.

Some Western politicians have suggested that Ukraine should hold general elections that are due in 2024. Normal electoral procedures in the country were suspended under martial law, but the country could amend its laws to allow the election to go ahead.

Read more: Chinese PM not on my level – Zelensky

Zelensky has been sending mixed signals on the matter, alternately saying that he is willing to run for another term under certain circumstances and claiming that the Ukrainian people would not want an election while the country is fighting.

The contradictory rhetoric “only reflects the wish of that individual and his associates… to keep power as much as they can,” Lavrov remarked. Meanwhile, the West “would have liked to have more flexibility,” considering Kiev’s failure to score successes on the battlefield, he added. Having Zelensky run a re-election campaign “would put him more in line with Western interests, because he has been increasingly getting out of control,” the Russian foreign minister suggested. The Russian government does not care about Zelensky’s fate, Lavrov said.

US Senator Lindsey Graham publicly called on Zelensky to hold a presidential election when he visited Kiev last September. He said this would show that Ukraine embraces “democracy and freedom.” Similar calls have come from other officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ukraine should to vote this year not only for a new president, but also for a new parliament. The current composition of the national legislature gives Zelensky’s Servant of the People party a unilateral majority, but it is far from guaranteed to keep it in the event of an election.

Read more: Zelensky threatens Putin’s grandchildren

A survey released last month by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KMIS) indicated a drop in public faith in the parliament. In the year since December 2022, the number of people distrusting the institution has grown from 34% to 61%. Zelensky’s own trust rating dropped from 84% to 62% in 12 months, according to the same poll.