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  • Documents on Democracy


On May 20, Volodymyr Zelensky was sworn in as president of Ukraine and delivered an inaugural address before the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. (For more on Ukraine's election, see the article by Joanna Rohozinska and Vitaliy Shpak on pp. 33–47 above.) Excerpts from Zelensky's speech appear below:

After my election victory, my six-year-old son said: "Dad, they say on TV that Zelensky is the President … So, it means that … I am … the President too?!" At the time, it sounded funny, but later I realized that it was true. Because each of us is the President. Not just the 73 percent who voted for me, but all 100 percent of Ukrainians. This is not just my victory, this is our common victory. And this is our common chance that we are responsible for together.

It hasn't been only me who has just taken the oath. Each of us has just put his hand on the Constitution and sworn allegiance to Ukraine.

Now, imagine the headlines: "The President Does Not Pay Taxes," "The Intoxicated President Ran the Red Light" or "The President Is Quietly Stealing Because Everyone Does." Would you agree that it's shameful? This is what I mean when I say that each of us is the President. From now on, each of us is responsible for the country that we leave to our children. Each of us, in his place, can do everything for the prosperity of Ukraine.

Our European country begins with each one of us. We have chosen a path to Europe, but Europe is not somewhere out there. Europe is here. And after it appears here, it will be everywhere, all over Ukraine. …

However, our first task is a ceasefire in the Donbas. I have been often asked: What price are you ready to pay for the ceasefire? It's a strange question. What price are you ready to pay for the lives of your loved ones? I can assure you that I'm ready to pay any price to stop the deaths of our heroes. I'm definitely not afraid to make difficult decisions, and I'm ready to lose my fame, my ratings, and if need be—without any hesitation—my position to bring peace, as long as we do not give up our territories. … [End Page 184]

My election proves that our citizens are tired of the experienced, pompous system politicians who over 28 years, have created a country of opportunities—the opportunities for kickbacks, stealing, and plundering. …

I can go on, but Ukrainians want actions, not words. So, dear deputies! You have scheduled the inauguration on Monday, a work day, which has one benefit—it means you are ready to work. Therefore, I ask that you approve: 1) The law on removing parliamentary immunity; 2) The law establishing criminal liability for illegal enrichment; 3) The long-awaited Electoral Code and open-lists. Also, please dismiss: 1) the head of the Security Service of Ukraine; 2) the prosecutor general of Ukraine; 3) the minister of defense of Ukraine.

This is certainly not all that you could do, but for now, it will suffice. You will have two months to do that. Do it. And take all the medals for it—not a bad move before the snap parliamentary election. I am dissolving the Verkhovna Rada.


On May 23, Narendra Modi was reelected prime minister of India. That night, Modi addressed his followers at the headquarters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in Delhi. His remarks are excerpted below:

Today, even the rain God has decided to join us in this celebration of victory. … I bow my head before India's 1.3 billion citizens. This is the biggest election in the entire world. There have been so many elections since the country's independence, but since then, after so many elections, the highest voter turnout was in this election, and that too, amid temperatures of 40–45 degrees Celsius. This in itself shows Indian citizens' awareness, India's commitment to democracy. The entire world has to register and recognize India's democratic prowess. …

Friends, when the battle of Mahabharata ended, Lord...