What happens in Ukraine if President Zelensky is assassinated?

In World

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had spoken out about Ukraine’s protocol should he be assassinated, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Under Ukraine’s constitution, the transition of power would default to the chairman of Ukraine, who would absorb the responsibilities of the role.

When the president is unable to fulfill his duties, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine [the Ukrainian parliament] takes over his responsibilities,” said Mykola Knyazhytsky, an opposition lawmaker from the western city of Lviv, according to Politico. “Therefore, there would be no power vacuum.”

However, the source reported that not all Ukrainians may be so supportive of such a backup plan as chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk has a trust rating of only 40% in opinion polls.

So, under the circumstances that Zelensky is assassinated, the Ukrainian government would likely be headed by Stefanchuk as a figurehead, the head of the president’s office Andrii Yermak, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (credit: Louise Delmotte/Pool via REUTERS)

Assassination attempts against President Zelensky

Assassination attempts against Zelensky have increased rapidly over the course of the war, Zelensky’s advisor Mikhail Podolyak said in March 2022, according to Politico. As The Jerusalem Post reported at the time, one week of March saw three attempts made against Zelensky’s life by Wagner forces.

In March, after two Ukrainian-allied anti-Putin individuals invaded two Russian villages in the Bryansk oblast region, calls for the assassination of the Ukrainian president dramatically increased. Lawmaker Mikhail Delyagin said the “only normal response” to the incident is the “immediate elimination of Zelensky,” according to Politico.

“If I were thinking about it constantly, I would just shut myself down, very much like Putin now who doesn’t leave his bunker,” Zelensky said in an interview in July. “Of course, my bodyguards should think about how to prevent this from happening, and this is their task. I don’t think about it.”

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