Musk questions Ukrainian democracy

The US entrepreneur has reacted with sarcasm to President Zelensky holding office beyond his official term

Elon Musk has cast doubt on Western involvement in the Ukraine conflict being described as upholding democracy, if the country’s leader has a questionable legal claim to power.

Tuesday marked the first day after the expiration of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s five-year presidential term. His government declined to hold a new election, citing martial law put in place due to hostilities with Russia.

The American billionaire entrepreneur responded to an X (formerly Twitter) post highlighting the deadline published by conservative journalist Jack Posobiec. Musk said: “But I thought we were there to ‘uphold democracy’?”

Zelensky’s democratic bona fides were called into question before the fighting with Russia started in February 2022. His government had cracked down on critical media and opposition politicians, claiming that it was fighting Russian influence and the power of oligarchs.

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His remaining in power is based on the absence of a duly elected successor, who Zelensky’s office has argued cannot be produced during war time. Kiev cited a constitutional restriction on voting under martial law as the reason for not organizing a presidential vote.

The Ukrainian Constitution does explicitly forbid parliamentary elections and some kinds of referendums during national emergencies, but says nothing about presidential elections. The Constitutional Court has not ruled on how the current impasse should be resolved.

The US and its allies have portrayed the arming and training of Ukrainian troops to fight Russia as a contribution to a global fight of democracies against autocracies. Conversely, Moscow has argued that the conflict is a US-initiated proxy war on Russia, in which Ukrainian soldiers serve as cannon fodder.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the issue of Zelensky’s legitimacy is something that the country itself has to sort out. However, the Ukrainian president’s status could call into question any future treaties he may sign with Russia, he added.


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