Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not refuse to hold elections in Ukraine. The Constitution of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” expressly prohibit holding any elections to the executive and legislative branches of government during wartime.

Russian media and pro-Kremlin social media bots massively spread the fake news that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had “declared himself a dictator,” allegedly “ruling out the possibility” of holding presidential elections in the country. According to the pro-Kremlin media, Zelenskyy “usurped power in Ukraine” and “did not care” about democratic norms. The Russian media also said that Ukraine was not entering into peace talks with Russia “to preserve Zelenskyy’s power.”

The head of the Kyiv regime benefits from the military confrontation with the Russian Federation, as it allows the Ukrainian politician to continue to hold power in the country and receive huge financial resources from Western partners,” the Russian media wrote.

The Russian media’s disinformation is based on a comment made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an interview with the BBC, who, answering the question of whether elections would be held in Ukraine next year, said that elections in Ukraine – both presidential and parliamentary – could only take place in peacetime after the victory in the war with Russia.

“This is a global issue. If we win, they will be held. It means there will be no martial law, no war. And elections should be held in peacetime, when there is no war, according to the law. I really want peace to come next year, and life to be the same as it was before the war,” Zelenskyy emphasized.

Zelenskyy’s words are based on current Ukrainian legislation. It is forbidden to hold any elections in Ukraine during wartime. Article 83, Section IV of the Constitution of Ukraine clearly states that elections to the country’s legislative bodies are prohibited, and Article 157, Section XIII states that “the Constitution of Ukraine may not be amended in a state of martial law or a state of emergency.” 

The Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law,” based on the Constitution, also expressly prohibits the holding of any elections, votes, or referendums in the country during wartime. According to Article 19 of the Law, the following are prohibited during martial law in Ukraine:

  • Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine
  • Amendment of the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
  • holding elections of the President of Ukraine, as well as elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and local self-government bodies
  • holding all-Ukrainian and local referendums.

In addition to legislation, there are a number of other factors in Ukraine that limit the possibility of holding elections during the war with Russia. These include the voting infrastructure destroyed by Russia, the impossibility of holding elections in the temporarily occupied territories, the organization of voting for millions of Ukrainians who have evacuated abroad, the impossibility of ensuring security in the event of a missile or any other Russian attack on election day, and much more.

Assuming the war with Russia ends and martial law is lifted, the next parliamentary elections in Ukraine are scheduled for October 2023 and the presidential elections in the spring of 2024.